Analysis: Overtaking under the microscope

Overtaking and its 'quality' has been much discussed in 2011 since the return of KERS, the advent of DRS (the Drag Reduction System) and the higher wearing Pirelli tyres.

Beyond doubt is that overall levels of overtaking have climbed to record Levels in F1 - there have been nearly 1500 passes so far in 18 races.

We are indebted to Mercedes for its own study, but first a few pointers because no standard definition of an overtaking move exists.

The figures quoted are compiled from a combination of video, timing data and GPS technology. Overtakes are classed as follows:

Normal/ DRS/ Slow Cars (referring to HRT, Lotus, Virgin, as the strategic value of these overtakes is different) / Team-Mates (one driver can choose to let another pass) / Damage /Lap One.

How many overtaking manoeuvres have been made in 18 races?

So far, there have been 1436 overtaking manoeuvres in all categories. Excluding overtakes categorised as 'Lap One' or because of damage, there have been 1180 manoeuvres. The combined total of 'Normal' and 'DRS-assisted' moves - those that most observers consider to be 'clean' overtaking - is 804 overtakes. This gives an average of 45 normal and DRS overtakes per race.

What is the breakdown of overtaking moves within these totals?

There have been 441 normal overtakes and 363 DRS overtakes; from the total of 804 clean overtakes, 55% were normal and 45% were DRS. Some 300 overtakes were on the three slowest teams by faster cars, with passes between team-mates accounting for 76 overtakes.

Which races have seen the most overtakes and which the least?

The highest number of clean overtakes were recorded in Turkey (85), Canada (79) and China (67). The races with the fewest were Monaco (16), Australia (17) and India (18). Nine races featured fewer than 50 clean overtakes; eight races featured more than 50. There have been an average of 45 clean overtakes per race - broken down to 25 normal overtakes and 20 with DRS.

What's the ratio of DRS to normal passes through the season?

The highest ratio of DRS overtakes to normal, i.e. where the influence of DRS was greatest, were: Yas Marina (89%), Nurburgring (81%), Buddh [India] (78%), Istanbul Park (59%) and Barcelona (57%). The lowest ratio of DRS overtakes to normal were: Monaco (13%), Hungary (20%), Canada (22%), Japan (26%) and Great Britain (27%) - it should be noted that three of these five races featured wet or mixed conditions, and use of DRS was restricted for portions of the race in Canada and Great Britain. DRS overtakes have outnumbered normal moves in eight of 18 races.

Has the ratio of DRS passes changed during the season?

In the first nine races of the season, there were an average 21 DRS overtakes per race - on average, 45% of clean overtakes. The influence of DRS has remained stable in the second nine races of the year: there were an average 20 DRS overtakes per race, representing on average 46% of clean overtakes.

Which driver has been the top overtaker in 2011?

The following figures are corrected for retirements of cars ahead, but only positions gained are considered. Buemi has made a total of 112 overtakes in 2011 - closely followed by Schumacher (111), Kobayashi (95), Alguersuari (90) and Perez (89). This total can be broken down into gains between the start and the end of sector one (top starter), gains on the first lap and gains in the race not including lap one.

Who has been the top starter in 2011?

The top starter is Schumacher, who has gained a total of 34 positions; next up come Buemi (29), Kovalainen (28), Liuzzi (20) and Kobayashi (19). In contrast, the driver who has gained the fewest positions in sector one is Vettel, with just one place gained all season, reflecting the fact that he has only once failed to qualify on the front row in 18 races, including 14 pole positions.

Who has gained most positions on the first lap in 2011?

In total terms, Schumacher, Buemi and Kovalainen also lead this table, having gained 40, 30 and 26 positions respectively on lap one. Discounting gains made in sector one, the top-ranked driver is D'Ambrosio, who has gained eight places between the end of sector one and lap one.

Who has done the most overtaking in the races after lap one?

This classification is headed by Perez and Buemi, both with 82 overtakes. They are followed by Button (77), Webber (76), Alguersuari (74) and Schumacher (71).

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Stories: NOVEMBER 22, 2011
ANALYSIS: OVERTAKING UNDER THE MICROSCOPE