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Formula One's fastest driver is Ayrton Senna, Amazon data says

Ranked by F1 qualifying speed and using machine learning to compare drivers since 1983, the Brazilian legend comes out on top.

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Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski

Formula One has seen many greats, but when it comes to the fastest F1 driver of all time, it's Ayrton Senna

That's the conclusion Amazon Web Services came to when it decided to solve the question in a fair manner -- with help from big data -- to celebrate F1's 70th anniversary. In the Tuesday announcement, AWS said it used data from all drivers since 1983 to build a machine-learning tool to analyze each driver's pure performance based on qualifying laps. The performance was then compared to the driver's teammate across the time range to build a web of interlinked performance data. 

It works like this: Senna would be compared to 1994 teammate Damon Hill in a qualifying session. Hill would then be compared to Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who'd be compared to Nick Heidfeld, and so on until the present day. AWS said this approach created the data to compare drivers from different generations based on the "raw speed" of a qualifying lap. Otherwise, Lewis Hamilton would sweep everything.

Although Senna takes the top spot, Michael Schumacher comes in second with a gap to Senna's best of just 0.114 seconds. Behind the Ferrari legend is the current world champion poised to usurp so many of Schumacher's records, Hamilton.

The list shows today's F1 drivers are some of the fastest of all time, with the list full of drivers competing on the track nowadays. Youngsters Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, both 22, are well up the top 10. 

Fastest F1 drivers since 1983

RankingDriverTimings
1 Ayrton Senna0
2 Michael Schumacher0.114
3 Lewis Hamilton0.275
4 Max Verstappen0.28
5 Fernando Alonso0.309
6 Nico Rosberg0.374
7 Charles Leclerc0.376
8 Heikki Kovalainen0.378
9 Jarno Trulli0.409
10 Sebastian Vettel0.435

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