The story behind a motorsport statistics legend
||Sunday, February 24th 2019, 10:51 GMT
Formula 1 testing features long nights and endless reams of data as cars run in earnest for the first time ahead of a new season. It's also the busiest period of the year for the man who tirelessly runs Forix, part of Motorsport Stats.
From the remote Azores island, Joao Paulo Cunha has spent over 30 years compiling and running motor racing's most comprehensive and accurate statistical database.
In recent decades, the small Forix team has expanded to include what Paulo Cunha has come to describe as "covering everything that races! Four wheels, two wheels, moto.
"We have everything that a fan might be interested in, top level world championships as much as domestic series."
Covering motor racing wherever it happens in the world is unsurprisingly hard work.
"18-hour days on Sundays during the racing season are not unusual, but in the Azores, I am perfectly located to span many timezones," Paulo Cunha jokes.
That means Forix now contains the data for 515 series - both active and inactive in 2018 - results for over 52,000 races, as well as around 70,000 driver profiles and the information for 6000 cars.
It all grew out of a hobby, as Paulo Cunha explains: "I was into computers at the time and there was nothing about statistics in Formula 1. I was a big fan, followed it for over 50 years so I'm quite old!
"I started compiling data and putting it into computers. It was a pure hobby at the time and then things started going bigger and bigger and taking more time.
"There was a point where I had to decide that it was a full-time hobby and it was about in 2000 that it started. I'm now fully dedicated to this."
After providing the backbone for Autosport's results services for many years, Forix became part of Motorsport Stats, a Motorsport Network company, in 2016.
Asked to pick out one of the most enjoyable aspects of his job, Paulo Cunha points to the symbiotic relationship he's formed with championships and their organisers.
"Sometimes our standings are more accurate than the organisers' site," he says. "It's an exchange we have with them and they are very helpful and sometimes we are very helpful to them too.
"It happens quite a few times, I won't name names though!
"Every year we have a couple of them. That's very enjoyable because we try to be as accurate as possible."
Having established a reputation as the go-to provider of motorsport results, accuracy and dependability have become the company's watchword - whatever it takes.
"I do remember a power cut that happened at a critical time one Sunday. There was nothing for it but to unplug all the servers and drive them to a local hotel with its own generator at 5 o'clock in the morning to get everything posted."
And sometimes, the timing systems at the track fail.
"In such circumstances, we're fortunate to have a delegation of friendly journalists at trackside who can provide me with some results verbally, which we post as provisional until normal service is resumed."
Paulo Cunha says he has no plans to retire from his role of continually updating the growing Motorsport Stats' position as the world's leading racing results business.
"If I decided to retire, what would I do? I would do this! It's something I enjoy doing," he said.
"It keeps me sharp. I like very much not to just work with data, but with the computation and the models behind it, I like that stuff a lot.
"I like the funny statistics too. I want to do this as long as I'm physically fit."
Motorsport Stats Results, which contains Forix data from many of the leading championships, is the world's largest freely available multi-series motor racing results service and is available at results.motorsportstats.com