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Formula 1: A high speed approach to games and strategy

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The article discusses strategies in Formula 1 and why the general formulation of these strategies has had to evolve over time. Modifications to the refueling rules and the introduction of a single tyre supplier are examples of changes that brought about this evolution.

In Formula one, companies play games not only against other companies but also against their expected times, the weather, the track, etc. In addition to this, they play multiple games against their opponents. In this kind of race, oversimplifying the situation to a 2-by-2 or 3-by-3 matrix isn’t very helpful. Furthermore, a winning strategy in one game could be a losing one in another.

For example, a company could choose to use heavy tyres with better grip in anticipation of rain. While this will give them the upper hand against their rivals who use soft tyres if it does in fact rain, it will be a losing strategy in the game against their own time. In another situation, a team could choose to make 2 pit stops to shave off a few seconds and risk being overtaken by a slower but difficult-to-overtake vehicle. On the other hand, they could choose to not take any stops and run on worn out tires which could potentially slow them down but give them more control over not being overtaken.

As stated in the article, luck is a very important factor in determining Formula 1 outcomes. And even though these strategies make differences amounting to fractions of a second, that is all it takes to be ahead of an opponent.

The fundamental ideas we discussed in class such as dominating strategies and Nash equilibria are the same ones applied here, only on a larger scale. This is why companies participating in Formula One use complex models requiring a lot of computing power. These models probably also consider the results of previous races and strategies.


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