Overtaking is overrated: F1’s top ten ‘processions’

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‘Big downforce’ is coming back in 2017: Fat wings, bargeboards, chunky diffusers.

That means no more overtaking and no more exciting races, right? A season of 20 predictable processions? Not necessarily.

Here are ten races which were great because an overtake didn’t happen. Ten tense nail-biters which had us wondering whether the leader would let their chance for victory slip.

Would DRS have improved any of them? No chance.

1961 Monaco Grand Prix

Moss puts one over Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari had spotted the nascent talent of Stirling Moss from an early stage in his career. However his attempt to court the young ace went badly awry: after Ferrary offered him a drive in a race at Bari, Moss travelled all the way to southern Italy only to discover his car was not ready.

From then on Moss took particular delight in putting one over the red cars. At Monaco in 1961 he gave Ferrari fresh cause to rue his mistake. Driving a privately-entered Lotus which gave away around 30bhp to the Ferraris, Moss nonetheless took pole position around the winding Monaco course.

He arrived on the grid having removed the side-panels from his car to aid cooling. More seriously a cracked chassis tube necessitated a quick weld-job – despite the car being full of fuel.

Richie Ginther led the way at first. But after 13 laps Moss moved ahead and there he remained until the chequered flag dropped at the end of the one hundredth tour. In the intervening period a pair of shark-nosed Tipo F1/61s snapped at his tail, seldom more than a few seconds behind.

Moss parried his pursuers at every turn. Phil Hill took up the chase 27 laps but it was to no avail. Over the final 20 laps the Ferraris mounted their strongest attack, Wolfgang von Trips reducing Moss’s lead to less than three seconds. But his Ferrari engine died on the penultimate tour, leaving Moss to seal victory in one of the best races seen at the Principality.

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1962 German Grand Prix

Hill hangs on at wet Nurburgring

Wins don’t come easily around the fearsome Nurburgring Nordschelife. But Graham Hill’s 1962 victory stood out as he kept a pair of top rivals at bay on a track made even more treacherous by rain.

Having moved into the lead on lap three, Hill’s BRM was tracked by John Surtees (Lola) and Dan Gurney (Porsche) the rest of the way. His pursuers filled his mirrors, Surtees edging ever closer as the race passed the half-distance mark.

The slightest error from Hill could have cost him the lead. As the final lap began Surtees was within range of an attack on the long straight, but Hill bought himself precious time by putting a backmarker between himseld and the Lola. Hill, Surtees and Gurney crossed the line covered by less than five seconds after a nerve-shredding race of more than two-and-a-half hours.

1965 British Grand Prix

Clark survives late scare at home

Jim Clark’s fourth home win was a close call
With 15 laps to go it seemed inevitable Jim Clark was going to take a fourth consecutive victory in his home race. His Lotus was over 35 seconds ahead of its closest pursuer, Hill’s BRM.

But then Clark’s Coventry-Climax engine began to run out of oil. Realising the problem, Clark flicked the engine off in the corners, preserving what little lubrication was left.

Fortunately for him that year’s British Grand Prix was being held at Silverstone, with its many long straights, instead of the twistier Brands Hatch. But though his tactics were effective they were costing him a huge amount of time. Hill cut entire seconds out of the Lotus’s lead, despite having to cope with problems of his own: the BRM’s brakes were fading badly.

Beginning the final lap Clark was still five seconds ahead but Hill had just taken three out of him. If the Lotus coughed badly the win would be Hill’s. But it didn’t: Clark clung on, claiming victory by 3.2 seconds.

1975 Dutch Grand Prix

Hunt springs a surprise

For a driver as outrageous as James Hunt, his first victory was suitably unconventional. Not least because it became at the wheel of a Hesketh, the cheeky upstarts who no one took seriously until it was too late.

A pre-race downpour at Zandvoort prompted the entire field to start on wet weather tyres. Ferrari’s Niki Lauda, already comfortably ahead in the championship, led away, followed by Jody Scheckter (Tyrrell), Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari) and Hunt.

But within seven laps, with a dry line emerging, Hunt was ready to gamble. Pit stops were a rarity at the time and Hesketh hadn’t done a good job of his last one in Monaco. This one went according to plan – though at around half a minute it was incomparably slower than a modern stop – and got him out in 19th ahead of the only other car on slicks.

As Hunt picked up the pace his rivals gradually followed suit. Lauda didn’t make it in until lap 13 and rejoined the track just in time for Hunt to come zipping by. But surely Hunt, with his reputation for throwing the car off while leading, couldn’t keep the Ferrari behind for the remaining 62 laps?

Indeed he could. Despite having to take risks in the traffic as Lauda loomed ever closer, ‘Hunt the Shunt’ prevailed. He made it to the finish line one second ahead, and the party started at Hesketh.

1981 Spanish Grand Prix

Villeneuve’s improbable victory

Gilles Villeneuve had already taken advantage of an off-day for the championship contenders to win the 1981 Monaco Grand Prix in his Ferrari. This shouldn’t have happened: the unwieldy 126CK lolloped around corners and communicated its vast power to the track only after significant turbo lag.

It was little better suited to the Spanish Grand Prix venue of Jarama than it was to Monte-Carlo. But no one appeared to have told Villeneuve, who was on a mission from seventh on the grid.

A scorching start put him third. All well and good, but the far nimbler Williamses lay ahead. Yet on the second lap he fumbled his way past Carlos Reutemann, so that when Alan Jones binned the team’s other car on the 14th tour Villeneuve took up the lead of the race.

What followed verged on the comical as a succession of faster cars queued up behind the Ferrari and failed to navigate a way past. The unflappable Villeneuve had four rivals within 1.2 seconds of him at the end of the race – a train comprising Jacques Laffite, John Watson, Carlos Reutemann and Elio de Angelis.

1982 Austrian Grand Prix

Rosberg denied again

De Angelis prevailed by 0.05 seconds
With its long straights and fast corners the Osterreichring was a playground for turbocharged F1 cars in the eighties. But the problems of containing all that energy hadn’t quite been mastered by 1982, and the turbo cars dropped like flies, leaving their naturally aspirated rivals to battle for victory.

First among them on this occasion was Elio de Angelis in his Ford Cosworth powered Lotus. He went from ‘class leader’ to outright leader with five laps to go when the last of the Renaults failed.

But Keke Rosberg was bearing down on him quickly. Having been ten seconds behind de Angelis earlier he now had the gap down to four and it was still falling.

On the penultiamte lap the V8 in the Lotus hesitated momentarily and now Rosberg had him in the crosshairs. The gloves came off: de Angelis squatted on the inside line as they screamed into the final corner, and Rosberg swept out behind as they powered to the line side-by-side. De Angelis made it first, by a mere five hundredths of a second.

1985 Dutch Grand Prix

Payback for Lauda

Lewis Hamilton may have been unfortunate when it came to reliability last year but it pales in comparison with what Mercedes boss Lauda went through in 1985. He may as well not have turned up for much of his swansong season as his McLaren MP4/2 failed over and over again.

The upshot was the reigning world champion arrived at the 11th round of the 1985 season only twelfth in the standings with five points. Team mate Alain Prost was tied for the lead with Michele Alobreto on 50.

Having started tenth, seven places behind Prost, Lauda made an early pit stop on lap 21. Prost, having inherited the lead, didn’t come in for another dozen laps. But when he did the service was agonisingly slow: an 18-second stop dropping him behind Lauda and Ayrton Senna. But his victory chances weren’t over.

After dispensing with Senna, Prost set about carving into his team mate’s seven-second lead. With ten laps to go they were nose-to-tail and the McLaren pit wall was in agony.

Putting more than a decade of grand prix experience to great use, Lauda kept Prost at bay. He carefully picked his way past traffic and protected the line when he needed to. Prost, on the verge of his first title, was wary of taking too great a risk – much as he would be in a similar encounter with Michael Schumacher at Estoril eight years later when wrapping up his final championship.

Most surprisingly of all, Lauda’s car held to the end. It was his final victory, and the final time he saw the chequered flag in F1.

1990 Hungarian Grand Prix

Boutsen leads the parade

Boutsen led for 77 laps straight in Hungary
Senna’s skillful way with pole position laps let him down for once at the Hungaroring in 1990 and Thierry Boutsen took advantage, leading an all-Williams front row. The McLaren pair occupied the second row but a lap 23 pit stop left Senna down in tenth.

Having kept his lead Boutsen appreciated the best way to hold onto it was to stay out of the pits. Nursing his Goodyears, while also suffering comfortable vibrations in the car after over-revving his Renault V10, he kept an eye on his mirrors while potential rivals fell by the wayside.

First to drop back was Gerhard Berger, who had to pit like his team mate. The second Williams of Riccardo Patrese also succumbed to the need for fresh rubber, letting Alessandro Nannini’s Benetton by.

The John Baranard-designed B190 was famously easy on its tyres and could have been a serious threat to Boutsen in the closing stages. But an even bigger threat was Senna, who stormed down the inside of Nannini at the chicane and almost flipped the Benetton over as he captured second place.

Yet remarkably, he couldn’t do anything to dislodge Boutsen. The Williams completed its 77th consecutive lap in the lead and won the race with Senna just two-tenths of a second adrift.

1992 Monaco Grand Prix

Another Monaco win gets away from Mansell

Mansell tried everything to pass Senna
Even the genius that was Senna at Monaco was no match for the formidable Williams-Renault FW14B in the hands of Nigel Mansell in 1992. The Williams cars occupied the front row, Senna was 1.1 seconds behind in third, and it seemed inevitable Mansell would finally get his first Monaco win.

Senna split the Williams pair at the start but Mansell disappeared off up the road as was customary. After 70 laps Mansell was 28 seconds ahead and the final minutes of the race were ticking down. Then came drama.

Exiting the tunnel on lap 71 Mansell’s car slewed sidways. A wheelnut had worked loose. In the Williams garage the team had already begun packing up their equipment (Benetton’s Martin Brundle had been the only other visitor to the pits all race long), so when Mansell arrived at short notice the change took an agonising amount of time.

He rejoined the track five seconds behind the McLaren and the impossible chase began. After hacking almost two-and-a-half seconds out of his rival in a single lap Mansell was soon clambering around the MP4-7A. Around the narrow confines of Monaco it was hardly necessary for Senna to defend to keep his position, but he was leaving nothing to chance. “With the regulations the way they are now Ayrton would have had six stop-and-go penalties” rued Mansell in a recent interview for Autosport.

Finally he had to accept defeat, and by two-tenths of a second Senna took his fifth Monaco Grand Prix victory.

2005 and 2006 San Marino Grands Prix

Alonso vs Schumacher parts one and two

Alonso demonstrated a champion’s race craft
A furious Kimi Raikkonen threw his steering wheel across the McLaren garage. A driveshaft failure had put him out of the San Marino Grand Prix after eight laps in the lead. But his departure from the race set up the first of two epic final encounters at the Imola track.

Fernando Alonso took over the lead ahead of Jenson Button. Michael Schumacher, who had started 13th after going off at Rivazza during qualifying earlier in the day, had only made up two places and seemed to be out of contention.

But the Ferrari was heavily fuelled for the first stint and jumped up to third after coming in on lap 27. His next pit stop almost jumped him into the lead, and as he returned to the track on lap 51 Alonso was well within range.

Alonso played it coolly, backing off by around three seconds to stay clear of traffic and contain Schumacher’s pace. It worked beautifully, though it took nerves of steel. The Renault driver prevailed by just two-tenths.

Twelve months later the roles were reversed. This time Alonso applied the pressure but he was no more able to find a way past than Schumacher had been. A few laps from home he ran wide on a kerb and his challenge was over – Schumacher had his revenge.

Over to you

Which other F1 races were exciting despite a lack of overtaking between the race leaders? And what memorably tense races have you enjoyed in other championships?

Have your say in the comments.

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Author information

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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76 comments on “Overtaking is overrated: F1’s top ten ‘processions’”

  1. While I agree on Hungary 90 or Monaco 92, the San Marino GPs of 05 and 06 never seemed any good to me. Successful defenses can only ever be interesting in times where overtakes are possible and do happen, and that just wasn’t the case in the mid-00s on that butchered San Marino track. The thought of “maybe an overtake will happen” just did not occur.

    1. @crammond well, at the time, it was a very different race from every other around. Plus, in the case of 2005, it was Schumacher and Ferrari’s long awaited comback to race winning situations, which virtually proved to be a one-off. It was the King vs the Contender.

      1. I’ve watched the 2005 Imola race a few times. The pace that Schumacher brings is incredible and the BBC commentary that was included kept informing of the lap times and distances between Schumacher and Alonso. It’s that part of the race that is incredibly exciting..

        1. And his move on Button that isn’t mentioned in the article. He nailed him instantly proving overtaking there was possible.

        2. Sounds way better than the ad break ITV showed us at the time, instead of the final laps!

  2. Keith, a truly gripping artical. these are on the list to check out (where i havent already – and we will be revisitig to compare), or as many as have been caught on Camara :)

    Thanks Yet Again

  3. petebaldwin (@)
    1st February 2017, 12:27

    Now re-imagine those races with DRS…. Yep.

    1. or rather NOOOOOO @petebaldwin

    2. @petebaldwin Most would be better. And it’s not as if DRS means we don’t get these races. Remember Alonso’s defence in Hungary 2014? Or Hamilton in Bahrain 2014? Or Max Verstappen in Spain?

    3. @petebaldwin, I doubt that it would have actually made much of a real difference in most cases. If you look in a number of those races, the trailing driver had such a performance advantage that, in most normal circumstances, they should have easily passed the leading driver – it required an abnormal set of circumstances for the leading driver to stay ahead.

      For example, by the time that Mansell had caught back up to Senna after his puncture in the 1992 Monaco GP, he was lapping around four seconds a lap faster than Senna – whilst Senna defended well, I would say that it says much more about how difficult overtaking is at Monaco when you consider that Mansell couldn’t get past despite having an extreme performance advantage. Similarly, in the 1990 Hungarian GP, Senna caught Boutsen at a rate in the order of two seconds a lap – normally more than enough of a performance advantage, particularly with a driver as aggressive as Senna (Keith is a little generous to Senna about his move on Nannini – it was more a case of simply ramming Nannini off the track).

  4. Hungarian GP 1993

    1. Not 93, that was when Hill swanned off into the distance unopposed. Very dull, but his first win.

  5. 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix comes to mind, although possibly for the wrong reasons.

    1. I enjoyed it immensely. A desperate Hamilton slowing the race to a crawl and Roseberg babbling on the edge of sanity from the pressure.

      Isnt that better than Hamilton cruising off into the distance with Roseberg following carefully?

  6. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
    1st February 2017, 12:36

    May I suggest the 2011 and 2012 Monaco Grands Prix?

    2011 saw Vettel leading on the one-stop, Alonso pursuing on the 2-stop and Button pursuing him on the 3-stop. It was edge of the seat stuff for a while as Vettel held the chasers off and with 10 laps to go anything could yet have happened… albeit sadly a red flag neutralised the race and spoiled the ending as they all got a free tyre change.

    The 2012 race saw Webber leading a train of cars in the closing stages, having not shown any clear pace advantage all race – then to add drama, rain started to fall in the final laps and a mistake from any of the drivers could have spelled disaster. No passes were made but the standard of driving was nevertheless superb.

    1. @hammerheadgb agreed, we were robbed of an epic finish at Monaco 2011, robbed!

      1. I remember being in the stands then. I was soooo angry at the decision. Was a good GP though. And I got to see a brilliant gp2 race with Grosjean tearing through the field.

      2. Vettel held the two off for a good 20-odd laps. Jenson’s tyres were fresher and softer for the most part.

        Yes we got only 25 laps instead of 20. But I doubt the result would have changed. Vettel was at his sublime best, he held the two off comfortably for 20 laps, he would have easily done so for the last 5 laps (post red flag).

    2. it’s funny because monaco 2012 was rated very low on this website. but i remember it being great for just those reasons.

      however, although i completely agree with its premise that races without overtaking can be awesome, i take some issue with the article because we have had great DRS races but only when the circumstances have combined to make them great. without DRS we wouldn’t have had button’s last lap win in montreal in 2011, for instance.

      i also feel like there is a correlation between hearing all the radio chatter (drivers moaning) and fans moaning about a lack of overtakes.

    3. Fully agree on Monaco 2011. I was cheering for Vettel at the time, so wasn’t all that disappointed with the red flag.
      In hindsight it could have been the most exciting finish in the Monaco GP ever. But I still wonder if either Button or Alonso would have tried that do-or-die overtake.

  7. That photo of Senna and Mansell in Monaco is very personal to me as it marks The Moment that I fell in love with F1. I still remember as a little 9 year old watching BBC Grandstand and Steve Rider saying something along the lines of ‘if you missed the last 5 laps of the Monaco Grand Prix last week then you’re in for a treat’. My tiny mind was blown, 25 years later here I am.

    On a side note, if F1 was shown only on Sky at the time then I probably wouldn’t be hear because I wouldn’t have wandered across F1 in the same way.

    1. Agreed, the 92 Monaco GP is one of the most clear in my memory and played a massive role in the young me becoming an F1 Fanatic. The last few laps were epic.

    2. Hakk the rack
      1st February 2017, 15:15

      I remember last couple of laps just chewing my little 11 years old thumbs like cookies. It were heart attacks moments, so intense, which were quite rare that year, as I was waving for Senna that time.

  8. Most those races were in era’s where you could overtake so the races would be gripping as an overtake could happen but didn’t. Danger in the modern day would be there is no expectation of an overtake so it is just a procession where an overtake is unlikely. Most races mentioned in the article an overtake was expected?

    1. The 2016 cars did not need DRS at all to overtake.

  9. I’ve always felt that a good/close battle for position that features the possibility of a pass with a few decent attempts thrown in there can often be way more engaging & exciting than an actual overtake.

    Those 2 races at Imola in 05/06 been a prime example. Neither fight for the lead featured an overtake yet for those 10-20 laps I was on the edge of my seat, heart rate up glued to the TV because while nothing ended up happening the possibility was always there for the car in-front to lockup, run wide or for the car behind to just take a dive or something. The unknown & prolonged nature of those battles created far more tension & excitement than if the car behind had just turned up & got past relatively quickly.

    Something that Anthony Davidson said during practice commentary when DRS was 1st been discussed in mid 2010 has always stuck with me. That been something to the effect of ‘You don’t want to make overtaking easy, It should be hard & it should be a challenge to pull off. All you want to do is ensure that the possibility of an overtake is there as it’s the possibility that something could happen which will create excitement’.

    1. @stefmeister and @Markp Yeah both comments well said and I agree. It’s harder to call a duel a ‘procession’ (other than in hindsight), when the regs have the cars generally able to pass without a gadget like DRS. When the possibility is there, it is exciting racing/defending moreso than a procession. True processions such as we saw with the ‘Trulli Train’ or the MS/Ferrari juggernaut were times when passing was often done only through the undercut through pit strategies, and rarely on the track as an actual car on car pass. So it was less exciting to see one car trail another as there was little expectation a pass might actually occur before the next pit stop.

    2. Something that Anthony Davidson said during practice commentary when DRS was 1st been discussed in mid 2010 has always stuck with me. That been something to the effect of ‘You don’t want to make overtaking easy, It should be hard & it should be a challenge to pull off. All you want to do is ensure that the possibility of an overtake is there as it’s the possibility that something could happen which will create excitement’.

      Oh this is so very true. It’s really sad knowing that an overtake will be completed without any trouble as soon as that dreaded flap opens. I am really curious to know what the 2017 regs will do with that. Does the lower wing reduce the effect of DRS in the slipstream?

      1. Yes. Overtaking should be a goal, not a basket.

  10. I’d like at suggest the 2016 Spanish GP. Perhaps it was the Verstappen factor but that will always remain a special day for me. I grew up, like most fanatics, with Formula 1 being a low overtaking category. The spectacle was the way the cars moved and the suspense was measured in tenths. A lot of the races around 2003 to 2006 were rubbish by modern evaluation but at the time I loved every one of them. Close battles were cherished and overtakes were the result of 15 minutes of cat and mouse action where the driver had to work out where the other was weaker. Defensive driving was a skill which applauded not condemned in the stewards office. I can’t watch Villeneuve at Jarama, Senna at Monaco or Alonso at Imola without feeling truly alive. The excitement of the inner 9 year old that I last felt during last years Spanish GP. Those are the races that made me love the sport. Give me that over 100 DRS passes everyday.

    1. Excellent example that.

  11. A great article. Too many fans/journalists/bosses are of the opinion that Overtaking = Excitement.

    I’d far sooner see a Gilles Villeneuve-esque defensive masterclass, with a queue of world class drivers behind clamouring to get past than a rear wing opening and an overtake being completed before the braking zone.

    1. @ben-r Not necessarily for old fans, but for new viewers, which would they find exciting, overtaking? Or cars not doing any overtaking whatsoever?

      1. A good battle spoiled by DRS is a lot more annoying than a battle that rages on for 60 laps.

  12. “With the regulations the way they are now Ayrton would have had six stop-and-go penalties” rued Mansell in a recent interview for Autosport.

    Nigel, what are you on about? Senna put on a defensive masterclass in a car that was far inferior to the FW14B and which was on knackered tyres. He didn’t put a foot wrong under massive pressure, that’s why he won that day.

    1. He’s absolutely right. How many moves would constitute blocking or ‘the Verstappen rule’ these days? Modern F1 drivers are crybabies.

    2. precisely. how do we expect people to be able to defend when the rules (effectively) don’t allow them too.

      anyway there ought to be more focus on the merc cars (changing the topic a bit here) – some of the over takes by both where totally out of order

  13. 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix getting no love.

    1. Considering the build-up that was an extremely disappointing race, it was a terrible way to end what was a brilliant season. After Alonso and Webber pitted the race was set-up to see the two coming through the field to win the title, instead we got nothing, Petrov barely even defended against Alonso, under the regulations the track just didn’t allow for any overtaking without driver error. Whilst not every race needs overtaking, that one definitely did.

    2. I remember being on edge of my seat most of that race, but watching it again (when you know the result) its as dull a race as you could image.

      1. Abu Dhabi 2010 ws the reason DRS was brought in!

      2. Well yeah, but whilst I agree with you, that really shouldn’t be the benchmark. At the time you were totally on the edge of your seat despite it being a procession. Works for me.

        1. Yes, it worked as it was the final race – if we have a series of mid season races like that, I won’t be very happy.

  14. Michael Brown (@)
    1st February 2017, 15:34

    We don’t need overtaking; we need battles.

    1. Exactly. DRS is a gimmick for kids who need to watch F1 for instant gratification, instead of appreciating the skill during a battle.

  15. These races all sound boring. Three second gap is large, they all seem boring and unsuspenseful. I bet if we get them in 2016 everyone will be saying how bad the state of the sport is…

    1. Find footage of the 1981 Spanish GP and watch it, all of it. Then make a more informed comment. If you still think it was boring, then I am sorry for you, for that race was Epic.

  16. knoxploration
    1st February 2017, 16:42

    Number of those races with DRS: Zero. Number of good races possible with overtaking all but impossible most of the time, but near-guaranteed with DRS in effect: Zero.

  17. Seen some of those races… but different cars, different eras, different opportunities. Apart from that San Marino race, which was basically… ‘not going to happen unless Alonso makes a mistake, so let’s just watch the cars go round quite close together. That’s interesting’.

    That race, rather than showing that DRS isn’t necessary, shows how essential it is with the cars we have today. That (04, 05, round then) was when F1 was meant to be as dull as dishwater because the cars supposedly couldn’t follow each other closely.

    But they’re only 0.4 or so seconds apart, in cars with fairly similar performance. These days it’s twice that if we’re lucky.

  18. Well, I wouldn’t call any of these races a ‘procession’. Processions are when the cars are well spread and there is no prospect of an overtake.

    In the examples, had not Lauda, Senna and Villeneuve driven defensively so well their pursuers would have been past. That’s what made the excitement.

    In fact the nature of Jarama and Monaco allowed the high down-force cars to be closer because of the lower corner speeds. The given examples would have been far more unlikely at Barcelona.

    Nice try Keith but I’m not fooled :)

  19. It wasn’t for the win, but when I think of entertaining processions the first to come to mind is always the 2013 Korean grand prix, with Hulk holding behind much faster cars in his Sauber.

  20. Guybrush Threepwood
    1st February 2017, 18:23

    Notice how there is only 1 instance from modern times? Close processional racing is ok if it’s actually close, but there have been very few instances of that being the case without DRS in modern times.

    Quite often the car behind can’t even try to pass unless there is a huge disparity in performance between the cars. Just look at Alonso at Abu Dhabi in 2010.

  21. Whilst little overtaking or lead changes may have occurred on great races, these races are exciting because the fact there was no overtaking was actually unexpected, the thrill comes from the suspense over whether an overtaking manoeuvre is going to happen rather than impossible.

  22. How about the 2012 British GP? One of my favourites.

    1. @xtwl Webber overtook Alonso in that one. The article says “Here are ten races which were great because an overtake didn’t happen.” The Monaco GP of that year fits into that category though. The top 4 were separated by under 1.5 seconds at the end.

      1. I know, @david-a but I more responded to the question at the bottom.

        Which other F1 races were exciting despite a lack of overtaking between the race leaders? And what memorably tense races have you enjoyed in other championships?

        So it was one overtake the entire race and apart from that I believe the top 5 didn’t change all race. But I agree the 2012 Monaco GP perhaps is a better fit.

  23. The important thing is that the cars can run close together without the challenger being disadvantaged by the lead cars aero-wake, the high downforce cars of this century leave a wake that is the equivalent of James Bonds DB5 spraying oil onto the road in corners to lose the pursuing baddies, add in the high-deg clown tyres of recent years and the result would be more analogous to a spray of grease that would cling to the tyre of the (no longer) pursuers. It’s not the pass that counts, it’s the threat of the pass happening in a nano-second that makes a race exciting and suspenseful.

  24. What about Bahrain 2014, Rosberg vs Hamilton?

  25. Less overtaking has never been an issue in years gone by. I enjoyed the ‘dull’ years of Ferrari & Schumacher domination in my first half-decade of watching Formula 1 because the cars were still a spectacle to watch on the television. They sounded colossal–magnificent even–and technology (+ fuel and tyre-saving) hadn’t advanced to the point where the cars were either glued to the road, or seemingly coasting along it for the majority. To make no mention of the switch to V8 and subsequently V6 engines, and the loss of sheer ferociousness communicated to the viewer as a consequence of the new regulations!

    Essentially, I could easily tolerate processions in the early 00s (and have enjoyed countless instances of footage from preceding years purely for the machinery and circuits, overtaking or no)–but in recent years, the excitement just isn’t there. The sport was watchable because of the cars, the thrill, the charismatic rollercoaster circuits, and the sensation that drivers were peerlessly talented daredevils with superhuman reflexes and immense, serpentine machines beneath them. If 2017 marks the return of 20-car conga lines, that’s fine, providing the machinery is more entertaining to watch than it has been for the past decade or so.

  26. What year was Vettel Hamilton at Catalunya? Was it 2011? If i remember rightly Hamilton had no right to even be close i think Button was way down i maybe wrong but what a race that was from Vettel and Hamilton

    1. Both Button and Webber were way down on that occasion (with Button actually in front of Webber), so Hamilton did have a right to be close. Good example though.

  27. All of the races mention were over 10 years ago, i.e. pre-DRS.
    But they do show that it is attempted overtakes, or battles, that make racing exciting.
    What aero and DRS has produced is, even after a few attempts at overtaking, is either it is successful or the tyres of the attemptee (sic?) give up their grip, in both cases, the end of the excitement.
    So unless the new regulations allow battles without tyre degradation, (which I doubt), we are not going to see long periods of excitement. High counts of overtaking doesn’t automatically mean an exciting race.

  28. I really like these sort of articles Keith! Keep up the great work.

  29. Bahrain 2014 seems to be missing from the list.

    1. One other memorable race would be Belgium 2009: Kimi’s KERS-enabled Ferrari holding off Fisico in the Force India.

  30. How about Maldonado holding off Alonso in spain 2012?

  31. You can add 2012 Malaysian GP to this. Fernando leading and a Sauber catching him. Fernando defending while also keeping an eye out on the drying line and when to switch tyres. After the tyre change, again Sauber catching Ferrari till finally Sergio went off at the penultimate corner. Added intrigue of a younger driver in a mid-field team chasing his first win against a 2-time WDC in a Ferrari.

    Max’s defense against Kimi in Barcelona 2016 wasn’t much as Kimi was too tentative. But the context of Max’s first race in Red Bull after Kvyat sacking is what made that race the highest rated if 2016.

    I think races like these (non-overtaking but great) become memorable because of their context as well as the defensive driving.

  32. Nice to read about a past Belgian success in F1 – guess which country I’m from ;-)

    But I remember that race weekend really well and, not to take anything away from Boutsen’s fabulous race on Sunday, his pole on Saturday was not entirely deserved. In the dying moments of qualifying, Prost was on his way to snatching that pole away from Boutsen by a healthy margin when Boutsen’s team mate Patrese slowed down a lot on his lap. To such an extent in fact that he was right in front of Prost in the last corner and at that point Patrese took the corner even more slowly, costing Prost considerable time and also pole. Patrese should have come in to the pits because he clearly wasn’t going for a hot lap then, nor on on his next lap, so his staying out only seemed to serve one rather unsporting purpose. Admittedly, Prost retired from the race the next day, so the end result may have been the same. But to this day, that display of Williams “team work” leaves a bitter taste in my mouth each time I think of my countryman’s greatest F1 triumph.

  33. What about Suzuka 2000? It was by no means a procession, seeing as there were basically only two cars competing that day – Schumacher and Hakkinen. Schumacher lost the lead at the start (not an overtake in the normal sense of the word), but from then on it was the most intense racing imaginable. Every driver going every lap as though it’s qualifying. That was probably the greatest Grand Prix I’ve ever seen.

  34. Isn’t it possible to use full-size pictures from F1fanatic as computer screen backgrunds anymore? I just keep getting this strange “copy link” dialog that doesn’t lead to anything else but a fullsize picture with another “copy link” dialog. Can’t right-click and use it as background anymore..((

  35. I hate artificial overtake done by DRS and KERS more than no overtaking; no one will say Alonso vs Schumacher at San Marino 05-06 are boring

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