When a Formula 1 driver comes up behind another driver, the natural first instinct is to overtake them. The driver can either dive down the inside, dance around the outside, use the slipstream or wait for the DRS zone.
The way it works is, they can either make it look easy as 1, 2, 3, or make a show out of it. But then, it also depends on how well the driver ahead can defend, and up the ante in the process. So, here are the greatest F1 overtakes of all-time.
A Brazilian Showdown in Hungary
The Hungarian GP was literally a ‘two-man dogfight’ between the Brazilian duo. Senna was off like a rocket and Piquet was left eating his dust as he manoeuvred every turn. But then, he managed to settle into a rhythm and stalked Senna. The older Brazilian managed to snatch the lead in first 20 laps before Senna returned the favour. However, with 3/4th of the race to go, Senna was struggling and Piquet needed no second invitation. He won the race 8 seconds ahead of Senna, setting the fastest lap in the process.
5th to 1st in One Lap
The 1993 European Formula 1 Grand Prix is regarded as one of the greatest races of all-time. The level of skill displayed by Ayrton Senna was so great that you simply cannot make it up. The Brazilian swept past four drivers on the opening lap and created new records in F1 en route to victory.
That magical first lap is also considered to be the greatest ever lap in F1 by many. The wet weather further added the element of danger to the whole race. Senna pushed hard at the start but ultimately got blocked by Schumacher. He started from P4 but dropped to P5 behind German. But the, Senna drove his way like a champion and took on Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger, Damon Hill and Alain Prost. The amazing fact of the matter was that he did it before completing the first lap and held position till the chequered flag came out.
Alan Jones Pulls off a Double Overtake
Halfway through the 1981 Formula 1 German GP, Alan Jones was hunting down Alain Prost for the lead. However, Renault’s turbocharged engine made this a nearly impossible task on the Hockenheimring’s long straights. The only way for Jones’ Williams would be in the slower “stadium” section of the circuit, which makes up most of the modern circuit today.
On Lap 21 of 45, Prost attempted to lap his team-mate, Rene Arnoux. But Arnoux going down without a fight. Behind the warring Frenchmen, Jones smelt blood and he seized the opportunity. Going into the Sachs-kurve, Prost ran wide while lapping Arnoux and Jones pounced immediately. The Australian stuck his Williams into a gap just wide enough to fit his FW7C through and made it stick to give him a very unlikely race lead.
Alonso Blasts Past Unsuspecting Webber and Massa
Fernando Alonso needed to finish on the podium for the final race of the 2012 Formula 1 season to have any chance of winning the driver’s title. With Sebastian Vettel tangled in a first-lap incident and at the back of the pack, the gods were smiling down on the Spaniard.
Going into Turn 1 on the second lap, Alonso had to contend with his team-mate Felipe Massa and Mark Webber to move into the top 3 and a championship position. Then it happened… He stunningly out-braked both Massa and Webber to slip down the inside at Turn 1 and begin chasing after the leading McLarens.
In the end, it proved futile as Vettel won the championship anyway, but the move did go down in the echelons of history.
Mansell vs Piquet
In 1987, the Williams drivers were unstoppable and were comfortably leading the British Grand Prix at the time. Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet led teammate, Nigel Mansell at the halfway stage when the latter opted to pit for new tyres.
With no visible threat from their opponents, Mansell suddenly found another gear and used it. During his hunt-down of Piquet, he shattered the lap record eight times. However, the wily Brazilian still had a few tricks up his sleeve.
On Lap 62 of 65, Mansell got a great run down the Hangar Straight and came tanking down on his team-mate. He jinked to the left and like clockwork, Piquet covered that line off. However, Mansell knew that his teammate committed a cardinal sin. He swerved back to the right to take the racing line and sweep past Piquet to eventually win the race. This manoeuvre would later be coined, “the dummy”.
Mansell vs Berger
Mansell was well-known for his never say “die” attitude and his incredible overtaking abilities, with his best arguably coming at Mexico in 1990. The British driver was tailing Austria’s Gerhard Berger in the closing laps of the 1990 Mexican Grand Prix at the time. Berger’s defence was rock solid and Mansell was forced to dig really really deep.
Mansell stuck with Berger through the twisty S-section at the older Hermanos Rodriguez circuit. However, the two were approaching the dreaded Peraltada, a heavily banked 180-degree right hander that only had one real line going through it.
Mansell tried his signature dummy move, but Berger evidently did his homework by watching the 1987 British GP. So Mansell bravely danced around the outside of the McLaren driver to sweep into second place.
Three Birds with One Stone
Ricciardo‘s ‘Lucky’ victory at Formula 1 Azerbaijan GP 2017 can be credited to his stunning ‘Triple Pass’. On the safety car restart following a Red flag scenario, he was behind the Williams duo of Massa and Stroll and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg. The Aussie driver got a massive tow down the long straight and he managed to pull off a brave overtake on Massa, Stroll, and Hulkenberg. He dived down the inside of turn one to take 3rd place and ultimately emerged as the winner of the race. It is no wonder that he is considered one of the best overtakers in the sport.
The Belgian Grand Prix at the legendary circuit Spa-Francorchamps started under the safety car due to heavy rain. Mika Hakkinen led until lap 13 but spun out while the track was drying. Michael Schumacher gratefully took hold of the reins and began to bolt away.
But then, the German began to struggle as tyre degradation took its toll on lap 34. It got to a point where he began driving off the racing line to cool his tyres. Hakkinen sensed an opportunity and clawed back the gap to the Ferrari. With four laps remaining, Hakkinen was on fire and pushed his car to the limit.
The Flying Finn got onto the slipstream of Schumacher at the Kemmel Straight and pulled off a double slipstream overtake on Schumacher and a startled Ricardo Zonta before the Les Combes. The Brazilian backmarker suddenly found himself in a Formula 1 champion sandwich as the two swept past him. Mika would eventually go on to win the race with Schumacher in 2nd.