This article explores whether there is any notable correlation between success in Formula One and the driver’s star sign. It also functions as a brief summary (or introduction) of probability and random distributions.
Aren’t Astrology And Star Signs Nonsense?
One important principle in an investigation is not to assume an outcome before the start. As such, I’m going to refrain on commenting on the validity of astrology here. However, there are reasonable reasons why the timing of one’s birth could have an impact on their life, and so I think this is a reasonable question to look into.
For example, did you know that in the U.K. Libra’s generally do better in school than Leo’s? It’s true! Of course, the studies concluded that this was due to the different ages of children within a school year, as autumn born children are older than summer born ones. Similarly, if any link between star sign and F1 success is established, it does not necessarily mean that it’s down to astrology.
What Results Would We Expect if Star Signs Have A Significant Impact?
This is not a simple question to answer, as there is no single understanding of star signs or their impact. However, we can say that we would expect something significantly different from a random distribution, with one (or perhaps two or three) signs showing up much more frequently than expected.
What Would A Random Distribution Look Like?
If the time of birth has no impact whatsoever on F1 success, then the probability of a successful driver being a given star sign is 1/12. This is assuming all star signs cover the same time range (which they don’t), and that the same number of people are born each month (which they aren’t), but it’s good enough for this study.
However, it’s important to note that an equal probability of each star sign is not the same as saying that the number of successful drivers from each star sign should be the same. This is because each outcome is random, making a surprisingly unpredictable result.
For example, if you flip 2 coins, the probability of getting 1 head and 1 tail is only 50%. If you roll a dice 6 times, it’s actually pretty unlikely that you will get each number once. You can try dice rolling here. It’s a good resource to show what random distributions look like. Here is a graph I obtained from the above link, using 60 dice rolls. I should stress that this was my first attempt, so there was no gaming of the system.
Does that look like each number has an equal probability? To my eyes, it seems like getting a 1 is a lot less likely than any other number, even though I know this not to be the case. As such, we much be cautious at drawing definitive conclusions from data that does not initially appear random.
What Star Signs Are The Multiple World Champions?
Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher stand above all others in most absolute records (most championships, wins, poles etc.). They are both Capricorn’s, and we’re even born just a few days apart (in different years, obviously).
Does that have any significance, or is it just a 1/12 coincidence? Well, let’s see what results we get by plotting how many multiple world champions there are of each sign.
Whilst the two most successful drivers are Capricorn, no other multiple world champions are. Meanwhile, Cancer is now the most popular sign, with 3 drivers (Vettel, Ascari and Fangio).
What we can see from this data is that there is some kind of spread. Most star signs have at least 1 multiple world champion, and there’s isn’t a single star sign that dominates others. Seen as there are only 16 multiple world champions in F1 history, let’s expand the data to include all world champions.
What Star Signs Are The World Champions?
Now we have another new leader in Aries! All the results so far are consistent with a random distribution. The relative bumpiness of the graph may be surprising (we have six times are many Aries as Tauros, for example), but this can again be explained as a consequence of a small sample.
Finally, let’s expand our sample one more time to consider all race winners.
Cancer takes the lead once again, with 13.5% of all F1 race winners, and the numbers are still consistent with a random distribution. Compared to the other graphs, this one looks more even, which is again what one would expect. There is also no obvious seasonal trend (as seen with school results).
As a final sanity check, I ran the data for Indy 500 multiple winners to see if it was similar at all to F1 data.
There really aren’t any similarities, other than the data again appears random. It actually appears that Cancer and Aries are now below average, whilst Sagittarius is above average. This is a flip of previous results, despite a slight overlap in data (as Fittipaldi and Montoya won races in both). Of course it’s possible that F1 and Indy 500 success lean towards different star signs, but it looks like both are consistent with a random distribution.
Despite the two most successful F1 drivers being the same star sign, there is no obvious link between star signs and success. If any effect is present it is not noticeable over the noise of random chance.