Here is a list of what we think as the best overtakes in Formula One and they are not in an exact order as each has a defining character to itself. F1 cars constantly evolved over the last nearly seven decades.
The challenges faced are indeed monumental and each era has different identities like the turbo dominated cars in the 80s, Cosworth V8s, early invention of Lotus aerodynamics, technological driver aids in 90s, Newey’s downforce-obssessed Red Bulls and now the hybrid Mercedes dominated years.
It goes on to show that while we criticise the ludicrous spending in F1, the cars have evolved and as does the steering wheel, brakes, wings, active aerodynamics and so on. With all due respect to the daredevils stepped foot inside the cockpit of a F1 car, let the top ten begin:
- Max Verstappen is a wonder kid in F1 and believe me he still is. Despite making debut as the youngest ever driver, his talent was obvious from the get go. He has demonstrated his ruthless passing skills many times and some have stood above the rest. His overtake round the outside of eventual champion Nico Rosberg at the Chappel for second place in 2016 British GP is a standout as one of the best ever.
2) The legendary Ayrton Senna was always a tough driver to stick a move on and his nemesis Nelson Piquet knew just that very well. At the 1986 Hungarian GP, he got past the Lotus driver on full opposite lock and it was a joy of an overtake in a monster of a Williams race machine. It will go down in history as one of the greatest.
- Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber are good friends off the race track but when on it they are as competitive as they come. Webber eager to move up the pecking order did a stunning move on the outside of the Spaniard in 2011. Eau Rogue is one of the hardest corners in the world of racing but apparently the feisty Aussie did not care!
4) Senna and Mansell gave us many iconic duos for more than a decade in Formula One. At the 1989 Hungarian GP, Mansell used the advantage of the back marker and pulled out a double overtake. That year, Senna had one of the strongest cars on the grid and opportunity to get past him never came easy. So, Mansell’s optimistic driving reaped him the reward.
- The 2012 F1 season was dominated by the Pirelli tyre row as the top-tier management wanted racing to be unpredictable for fans amidst moves to cut expenditure and make F1 a fair game failed. It raised eyebrows because the essence of racing is to go fast and not coast along to save tyres. Nevertheless, it brought some astonishing wheel-to-wheel battled including this three-way fight between Hamilton, Grosjean and Perez in Korea.
- The iconic Michael Schumacher’s retirement after the 2006 season came following a gripping battle for title with Fernando Alonso. The latter was the eventual champion restricting the German legend for the second year running with Renault. In doing so, he did some spectacular toe-to-toe racing like this.
- By seeing this move, you would be left wondered as much as me on where the heck did he get the grip from to just breeze past Gerhard Berger with a single lap left to spare. It was one of all time great moves as Mansell piloting Ferrari disposed the Austrian to third position in the dying moments before the chequered flag fell in Mexico.
- We all know the super cool Kimi Raikkonen has an incredible fan base in F1 but on his McLaren days he was at his very best in overtaking as demonstrated by this move. Coming through the pack from behind, the Finn went past Fisichella’s Renault and tasted champagne on top of the podium in Japan. Watch this footage and get thrilled.
- Japan’s Suzuka circuit is an old-school fun and punishes drivers even for their slightest mistakes because of the gravel traps and constantly narrowing layout in some sections. The 130R is a daunting corner in many respects as it caught out many drivers in the past but not Alonso in 2005 as he just muscled his way to go round the outside of the great Schumacher in his maiden championship winning year.
- Last but certainly not the least. We did not categorise the top ten and if we did this move would be surely up there in the top three. Michael Schumacher and Ferrari had the strongest partnership in F1 for nearly a decade both political and on outright pace. However, it was Hakkinen, the only man to beat Schumacher in his prime and was admittedly the fiercest rival, pulled off a mouth-watering overtake at the 2000 Belgium GP by taking advantage of the back marker Ricardo Zonta.
We could still go on and on with the best overtake list and there are special mentions to be given to the 1979 podium fight between Rene Arnoux and Gilles Villenue at the French GP, Montoya’s move on Schumacher in 2001 Brazil GP and the 1993 European wet race at Donington explaining why Senna is the greatest of them all by taking lead from nowhere in about 40 seconds. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GOEorrE4mY)