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Pass Masters - overtaking in 2011 analysed

Formula 1? - The Official F1? Website
22 Nov 2011
Following the arrival of the DRS (Drag Reduction System) rear wing and Pirelli tyres, overtaking has been a frequent topic of discussion throughout 2011. With nearly 1500 passes over the last 18 races, the level of overtaking has certainly climbed this year, but the debate about the merits of the rule changes continues. As we approach the season finale in Brazil this weekend, Mercedes have compiled some facts and figures to help you make an assessment...

Although no standard definition of an overtaking manoeuvre exists, the figures used by Mercedes below are calculated for strategic purposes, which is reflected in the categorisation, and compiled from a combination of video, timing data and GPS technology. Overtakes are classed as 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.

Q: How many overtaking manoeuvres have been made in 18 races this season?
A: 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 - the indicator of what most observers consider to be 'clean' overtaking - is 804 overtakes. This gives an average of 45 normal and DRS overtakes per race.

Q: What is the breakdown of overtaking manoeuvres within these totals?
A: There have been 441 ‘normal’ overtakes this season and 363 ‘DRS’ overtakes; from the total of 804 clean overtakes, 55 per cent were normal and 45 per cent were DRS. 300 overtakes were on the three slowest teams by faster cars, with passes between team mates accounting for 76 overtakes.

Q: Which races have seen the most overtakes and which the least?
A: 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.

Q: What has been the ratio of DRS to normal passes through the season?
A: The highest ratio of DRS overtakes to normal, i.e. where the influence of DRS was greatest, were: Abu Dhabi (89 per cent), Europe (81 per cent), India (78 per cent), Turkey (59 per cent) and Spain (57 per cent). The lowest ratio of DRS overtakes to normal were: Monaco (13 per cent), Hungary (20 per cent), Canada (22 per cent), Japan (26 per cent) and Great Britain (27 per cent) - 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.

Q: Has the ratio of DRS passes changed during the season?
A: In the first nine races of the season, there were on average 21 DRS overtakes per race - on average, 45 per cent of clean overtakes. The influence of DRS has remained stable in the second nine races of the year: there were on average 20 DRS overtakes per race, representing on average 46 per cent of clean overtakes.

Q: Which driver has been the top overtaker in 2011?
A: The following figures are corrected for retirements of cars ahead, but only positions gained are considered. Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi has made a total of 112 overtakes in 2011 - closely followed by Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher (111), Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi (95), Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari (90) and Sauber’s Sergio 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.

Q: Who has been the top starter in 2011?
A: The top starter is Schumacher, who has gained a total of 34 positions; next up come Buemi (29), Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen (28), HRT’s Vitantonio Liuzzi (20) and Kobayashi (19). In contrast, the driver who has gained the fewest positions in sector one is Red Bull’s Sebastian 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.

Q: Who has gained most positions on the first lap in 2011?
A: 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 Virgin’s Jerome D'Ambrosio, who has gained eight places between the end of sector one and lap one.

Q: Finally, who has done the most overtaking in the races after lap one?
A: This classification is headed by Sauber’s Sergio Perez and Buemi, both with 82 overtakes. They are followed by McLaren’s Jenson Button (77), Red Bull’s Mark Webber (76), Alguersuari (74) and Schumacher (71).
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