Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg, Sepang International Circuit, 2016

Pirelli claims 2016 had 53% more passes than 2015

2016 F1 season

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The number of overtaking moves per race rose by more than half in 2016 compared to last season, according to Pirelli.

Data from Formula One’s official tyre supplier shows the total number of overtaking moves during the 21-race season was 866. This is a rise of over 53% compared to last season, when 509 passes were recorded over 19 races.

Red Bull achieved the most overtaking moves of any team. Their drivers managed 136 passes, 61 of which were by Daniel Ricciardo, 60 by Max Verstappen and 15 by Daniil Kvyat.

Verstappen made the most passes during the season, achieving a total of 78. He was the only driver to overtake Sebastian Vettel all year, overtaking the Ferrari driver on the 66th lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Unsurprisingly the Mercedes drivers were overtaken less than any of their rivals: Lewis Hamilton three times and Nico Rosberg on four occasions.

The Chinese Grand Prix saw the highest number of overtaking moves with 128, the most in any race since 1983. Hamilton’s 18 passes in this race were the most of any driver in a single grand prix.

Hungary saw the fewest overtakes of the season: just ten passes were made at the Hungaroring. Of the three rain-affected races Brazil saw the most passes with a total of 64 moves.

Pirelli’s analysis defined an overtaking move as “one that takes place during complete flying laps (so not on the opening lap) and is then maintained all the way to the lap’s finish line” excluding position changes due to major mechanical problems, lapping and unlapping.

What was the best overtaking move of 2016? Make your nomination here

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 79 comments on “Pirelli claims 2016 had 53% more passes than 2015”

    1. And just how much were actual overtakes without huge tire difference and fake drs help?

      1. Hear, hear! We want real drs, not fake drs.

        1. Well you know what i mean but sometimes i make a mistake cause english is not my first language.

          1. I knew what you meant – your English is good. The answer is not many overtakes were without DRS or huge tyre differences.

            Having said that, there were plenty of overtakes that would have happened without DRS however as they were in the DRS zone, it was used and made the pass too easy.

      2. That’s always the big stand out. There’s never a break down on how the overtakes took place and tyre state or car advantage, so a total number can be misleading.

      3. None. There is no racing, there is only DRS.

    2. Three different news reports about Pirelli’s overtaking statistics, three different sets of numbers, only F1Fanatic doesn’t have Verstappen as most overtakes

        1. @keithcollantine Dear Lord, my comprehensive reading skills have gone to bits. Mea culpa.
          Actually though, interestingly, that still makes three news reports I have read that have different numbers, albeit same people ranked in order. Weird.

        2. @keithcollantine I’ve read on other websites that 78 overtakes in a season is a new record.

      1. @hahostolze apart from where Keith wrote:

        Verstappen made the most passes during the season, achieving a total of 78. He was the only driver to overtake Sebastian Vettel all year

        1. @ginja42
          His eagerness just to mention “verstappen” sometimes just blurs his reading.

    3. But how many of them were actually exciting?

    4. Sadly 98% of the passes were DRS-assisted, which means about 17 passes were actual proper overtakes.

      1. And how many overtakes would there have been without DRS?

        1. @hugh11
          Does it matter ?
          Watching DRS passes is about as exciting as a Safety Car start, and adds nothing to “the show”, so, for me at least, there’s no appreciable difference between watching a race with very few overtakes, and one with lots of DRS passes.

          1. @beneboy Not all DRS-assisted passes are unchallengingly easy for the trailing driver and completed before the start of a braking zone.

            1. I don’t recall claiming that they were.

          2. If DRS went, there would be hardly any overtakes, and there would be much more complaining about the lack of overtakes than there are currently about the amount of DRS moves.

            1. @hugh11
              It isn’t a binary choice of DRS and loads of boring passes or no DRS and no overtaking, they could actually change the cars so that silly gimmicks weren’t required to give the impression that there’s some racing happening during a GP.

            2. @hugh11 Of course, because you can’t just remove DRS, you also have to remove the front wing.

            3. @hugh11 People say that but then you go back to the last season without DRS (2010) & see that the average number of overtakes was around 30 per race which is more than enough in my book. In 2010 both the average number of overtakes per race & season total were the highest they had been since 1989 & more than double what they had been during any season during the refueling era.

              Without DRS maybe there would be less passing, But at least the overtakes we would then be seeing would actually be hard fought for, 100% based on driver skill, exciting to watch, memorable & meaningful… Something you can’t say about any DRS generated highway pass.

            4. @beneboy I’d be fine with removing DRS if they made it so cars could actually follow each other through corners without turbulent air, but with how they’re designed right now, it’d be incredibly difficult to overtake without it, and while the overtakes that do happen would be amazing, there would be about 3 per race.

            5. @hugh11 So it sounds like you agree with @beneboy et al as do I, that the cars need changing, and indeed they are changing. Oh I know there are skeptics who believe it will be no better next year, but I think we need to wait and see, as surely the added ground effects not to mention the wider cars and non-thermal tires are going to be game changers. To me, even if the cars are still too aero dependent and therefore parade-like, there is far more room for improving on that with the new chapter than the one they’re done with. The ultimate goal should be to reduce the negative effect of dirty air enough such that they can get rid of the need for the bandage called DRS that hasn’t healed anything anyway.

              We need to see from F1 drivers performing great feats again. DRS is unnecessary given other changes they can make, and are, and only takes the greatness out of the show. The cars need to be put back in the hands of the drivers, and I think they are making a great move toward that end.

    5. So what?!?!! Who cares!? Really a complete bunch of nonsense because cars don’t defend their position because they need to preserve tyres & continue their race (which is essentially just a time trial/rally cross but they encounter other cars).

      Cars being overtaken before they even hit the braking zone, so ridiculous.

      1. @s2g-unit To be fair that is how motorsport is. How can you get to the end of x number of laps in the shortest possible time. The skill comes into factoring in the other cars, their strategies, track conditions etc.

        1. It’s actually the slowest possible time while maintaining to be number 1 in the end. Conserves reliability etc.

    6. It bears pointing out that as the total number of cars increased by 10% compared to last year, some of this rise was inevitable. Improved reliability will also have had an effect.

      1. @keithcollantine Adding to that an additional two races being two on which it is rather easy to overtake.

      2. So there should have been 10% more overtaking per race, and 10.5% more races. So there should have been 15.5% more overtaking even if everything else had remained the same.

        Also note that the increase in car was mostly in the midfield, where there’s always more overtaking than at either end, and some of the tracks that weren’t new had extended DRS zones. Add at least one person frequently qualifying and starting worse than their car’s performance (the time when DRS zones are most blatantly push-button) and barging people off-track now being allowed as an overtaking technique (at least for some drivers), and the stats are pretty easy to explain.

        The problems of the last few years remain exactly as they are.

    7. It is interesting that Kvyat who was only in Red Bull for the first 4 races which was under 20% of the season and yet he had 15 overtakes. Verstappen had 60. So only 4 times as many even though he was in the car for over 80% of the season. Maybe it is just because as the team is better, they pull out further in front and there is less overtaking to do. The team wasn’t as competitive in the first few races which maybe meant there was more of a fight and more cars to overtake.

      Although now I think about it, has Verstappen maybe only got some extra overtakes because of his mistakes? Such as in Abu Dhabi. He wouldn’t have had to do all those overtakes if he didn’t spin on the 1st lap. I’m not saying his overtakes are not impressive but lots of them were probably ones he wouldn’t have needed to do if he didn’t make a mistake earlier in the race. But then that goes for any driver.

      1. has Verstappen maybe only got some extra overtakes because of his mistakes? Such as in Abu Dhabi.

        Yes obviously his races in Abu Dhabi and Brazil contribute massively to his tally. Overtakes that ‘shouldn’t have happened’ when everything had gone according to plan.

        1. Most drivers have had their comeback race; Vettel (Singapore), Hamilton (China, Japan, Italy, etc), Rosberg (Canada, Malaysia), Räikkönen (Austria), Ricciardo (China).
          Abu Dhabi gave Max only 7 overtakes or so, as first lap overtakes don’t count(*) nor do retirements and pit stops.
          Brazil was not his fault, the team ordered him in.
          So, not that much in it.

          Kvyat had the crazy China race to score some overtakes, and his dismal qualifying record to put him in the right spot for it.

          (*) else he would have been counted as overtaking Vettel more than once.

      2. Well, consider that Verstappen has made 78 overtakes, 60 of which for Red Bull… So while Kvyat made 15 passes for Red Bull, Verstappen passed 18 times in a Torro Rosso.

        1. @jajo, that sort of explains my point. Drivers in the worse cars do have more overtakes so that will probably be one reason why Verstappen had a few more than Kvyat did before the switch over.

    8. I don’t understand. If Verstappen was the only driver that overtook Vettel, how are the Mercedes drivers the guys that were overtaken less than anyone else? Shouldn’t it be Vettel?

      1. @keithcollantine exactly. Or it means he has the record of the most passes on Vettel? I didn’t get those lines. Sorry. English is not my native language either.

        1. Unsurprisingly the Mercedes drivers were overtaken less than any of their rivals: Lewis Hamilton three times and Nico Rosberg on four occasions.

          should be read as “Unsurprisingly the Mercedes team was overtaken less than any of their rivals: Lewis Hamilton three times and Nico Rosberg on four occasions.”
          @fer-no65, @omarr-pepper

          here the link to the original Pirelli data.

          1. I wonder if they take overtakes on teammates into account.
            If they do (and I think they do) than the sentence “Unsurprisingly the Mercedes team was overtaken less than any of their rivals” is wrong!

            1. It would make no sense for them to include teammate overtakes when comparing teams but ignore them when comparing drivers. The more plausible explanation is that Raikkonen was overtaken 7 or more times, meaning the Ferrari total exceeds the Mercedes total.

      2. it means that the driver who was least overtaken in a GP was vettel, with only one overtake from max verstappen in BR GP

    9. Quantity over quality, not something to brag about Pirelli!

      1. @ferrox-glideh Although I agree quantity is nothing to aspire if that comes at a low quality cost, it’s not like the 80s were full of brilliant overtakes. That’s why if you go look for those Youtube clips you always find those same 15 or so overtakes ranked in a different order. Of the 800 or so overtakes this year we had a couple of brilliant ones too, which is how it’s always been, whether that is with or without DRS.

        1. I agree that there were some great overtakes this year (and I think that there may have been more great moves this year than in most years), but many passes were rather meaningless. Although I loved the racing in earlier eras, I am still a big fan of the sport today. I guess I like seeing a driver given more of a chance to defend, which the modern DRS era somewhat lessens.

    10. 63% means nothing unless you dig deeper to see how those overtakes came about.

      1. As if 2015 overtakes had been any more legit than 2016.

    11. I enjoyed a lot the 2000-2005 procession era just by watching the onboard footage, the sound of the engines, and the laptime drop, don’t see the point to have a DRS and high degradation tires if anyway we always overlook the DRS and Tire difference overtakes and only praise the mano a mano overtakes like the ones Mad Max have performed this year.

      1. That’s a long sentence, @juanmelendezr1!
        You lost me after the 3rd comma.

        1. I agree with you, long ass sentence, 3 missing commas

          1. Missed out on a point or two as well… Hereby compensated…

    12. More overtakes this year, there will be less again next year due to new aero regs!

      1. @Noddy Not necessarily as according to Eric Boullier ”the influence of the front wing will be lower, since the floor and the diffuser will generate more downforce, allowing more overtaking.” – So if he’s right in his words, then next season shouldn’t be too bad from the racing point of view.

    13. They must have missed quite a few overtakes, as Clip the Apex mentions 1,030 overtakes (49 per race). Interestingly, on average there were more overtakes in dry races (52). This is roughly the same amount of overtakes as in 2012 and 2013, which is good news, as the amount of overtaking had decreased substantially between 2011 to 2015.

      The main reason for the increase in overtaking is probably the 3 instead of 2 available tire compounds. Due to the additional tire compound there are more natural speed differences between drivers on different compounds and with different degradation. Also there were more available strategies, which resulted in more strategic variation, especially early in the season. Later in the season the races became more predictable again. The statistics also show that the resurfacing of the Hungaroring was a bad idea. Without the bumps small driver errors were less likely and suddenly there was almost no overtaking (even with DRS).

      1. It’s not surprising. You can’t use the push-button DRS method in wet races, as Race Control temporarily takes the toy away.

        1. @alianora-la-canta True, but usually the wet track induces more driver errors, which may result in more overtakes. I believe the wet 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix saw the highest number of overtakes up until that race. Before the Pirelli/DRS era there was considerably more overtaking in wet races, nowadays the amount of overtakes is roughly the same.
          This year we had wet races in Monaco, Great Britain and Brazil. In Monaco overtaking is usually close to impossible. At Silverstone there was only one dry line for a very long time, which made it very easy to defend. This leaves Brazil as the only “decent” wet race. I don’t think DRS has too much of an effect on overtaking.

          1. Errors only result in overtakes if the car doesn’t retire on the spot (as tended to occur in Brazil this year and Monaco every year where rain is featured), otherwise the potential overtake is removed from the count. The “only one dry line” didn’t used to make much difference to overtaking, but that change predated 2015 by at least four years, and if memory serves me, perhaps more.

    14. The number of people dissing this stat need to realize that DRS was present last year as well. There have genuinely been more fights this year.

      1. No, no NO! DRS destroys EVERYTHING.

        if (drs == yes) { racing = “sux!”; }


        1. Agreed @grat Just because DRS was present last year too does not make overtakes this year any more genuine. The very presence of DRS takes a lot of ‘genuine’ out of the whole show. It fails miserably at masking the real problem of inability to wield an aero dependent car in dirty air. The mandated tiny window of optimum thermal tire performance is also a gimmick to mask the real problem, and thank goodness at least those are gone.

    15. How many of China’s overtakes came from the fact that Raikkonen, Hamilton, Vettel and Ricciardo all had problems at the start and had to fight their way through the field.

    16. Lewisham Milton
      12th December 2016, 18:52

      21 more race wins for Pirelli!

    17. this statistic about Sebastian Vettel only being overtaken once during the whole season is impressive by any standard. And I’ve never been a great supporter of him. I just rate him very good, but this statistic is quite something.

    18. The fact they even state a percentage is a load of bs. This isn’t just a quantitative measure. Far too many engineers with too much power over the data. It’s rubbish. We all watch the races. Listen to us instead of numbers…

      1. Pirelli official notes doesn’t mention percentage. It’s up to any writer how to frame it in news. If it’s up to me it will be:

        Three most standout stats:
        1. Best offence: Verstappen (78)
        2. Best defense: Vettel (1)
        3. Best steal: Alonso (41)

    19. He was the only driver to overtake Sebastian Vettel all year, overtaking the Ferrari driver on the 66th lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

      I read this as what it says but couldn’t believe it, so does it really say nobody in the entire season overtook Vettel except for that one pass by Verstappen? That’s amazing isn’t it?

      1. It just shows Vettel wasn’t ahead of faster cars lots of times at the races, poor qualifying, bad strategies, and bad starts will do that for you. Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari had a pretty decent gap to the midfield teams most of the season.

        1. That had to be, him being behind the faster cars mostly.

        2. Verstappen errors, lack of speed during start and the way he wears the tires forcing tire changes made him go more than often between the midfield during race. Too many overtakes without being ahead of the teammate means a lot of errors or mechanical problems. This is the reason for so many overtakes. Vettel, Raikonnen and Lewis also had some experiences recovering for behind but it wasn’t as often as Verstappen. No doubt he has an spectacular driving style (common in kart racing, not so common when drivers mature to F1) with a lot of overtakes. He has shown a lot of potential but he needs to improve his consistency, race strategy and car development. He is a good No.2 at RBR and for sure he will be a No.1 sooner than later.

    20. Arnoud van Houwelingen
      12th December 2016, 21:28

      why are not overtakes in the first lap counted? For example the overtake of Verstappen on Vettel in corner 3 in GP Spain which was crucial for Verstappen to win that GP?

      1. Because they’re a separate statistic, usually “start performance”, and it’s a related but separate skill.

        1. But in reality this was in corner 3 or so, not much start performance related.

          1. @maxv

            I found the rules how they count overtakes on a different site, and obviously they have to make a certain standard and it should be easy to apply. An overtake only counts if it can be kept for at least a full lap. And anything in the first lap doesn’t count as well. Also an overtake due to some sort of technical problem doesn’t count either.. And some additional points..

    21. And this highlights the biggest issue with F1, A lot of the rule makers in F1, The media & to a large extent many fans….. That been that people only ever look at the numbers & seem to believe that more is automatically better.
      There may well have been more passing this year, But how much of it does anyone remember? How much of it was actually exciting or even interesting to watch?

      It’s like Nascar when it brags about 80 lead changes during a plate race, It’s an utterly meaningless stat because when your stuck running side by side foot to the floor all race the leader is going to change a lot as the high line may get a better run 1 lap with the low line having a better run the next…. As such the number of lead changes on a plate track (Daytona & Talladega) is an utterly irrelevant & meaningless stat which is no way equates to how good or bad that race was.

      At the end of the day quality is far more important than quantity. Having high overtaking figures is good if all you care about it quantity, But whats the point of having more of something is most of that is so devoid of any interest or excitement that it may as well not have even happened & most of them are completely forgotten due to how in-exciting they were?

      1. @PeterG Agreed. It is like they reacted to people complaining about lack of passing in F1 by using a bandage rather than addressing the real problem of cars too dependent on clean air. DRS still hasn’t fixed the parades anyway.

      1. This was meant to be a reply to PeterG.

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