The Best Overtakes in Formula 1
Formula 1 cars are the quickest, nimblest and most potent type of land vehicles. They can outperform many types of vehicles, but what would be the outcome when an F1 car goes against another F1 car? Well, it’s going to be a close contest depending on many factors, but the main factor would be the drivers.
We don’t have to look too far for evidence of this statement. Every F1 team has two cars and two drivers, and most of the time, the cars are closely matched. Despite that, the performance of the vehicles on race day is not close. Why is that? That is because the drivers make a difference. Michael Schumacher is used to zooming away in a Ferrari while Eddie Irvine is way behind. Senna rocked in the McLaren but Gerhard Berger was far back.
I am not for a moment saying that Eddie and Berger were not good drivers; they were great drivers on the circuit. However, drivers like Schumacher and Senna took the performance to the next level.
Going back to F1 cars, let’s accept that the drivers do make a difference. And if so, how would an equally matched combination of car and driver perform on the track?
Let’s find out.
Did You Know?
It is a known fact that pitstops increase the lap time of a car. However, there was one instance when a pitstop turned out to be the fastest lap.
At the rain-soaked Donnington in 1993, Ayrton Senna got in for his pitstop but could not stop. So he continued making that his fastest lap of the race.
There were two reasons for that. One was the setup of the circuit where the pitlane offered a shorter route to the start-finish straight, and two, there were no speed limits in the pitlane back then.
Formula 1 Car Roaring Past a Formula 1 Car
The only way to compare two F1 cars is to see how one vehicle overtakes the other. That is the only way to be sure that one car is faster than the one it passes.
Mika Hakkinen Overtakes Michael Schumacher
When talking about F1 overtakes, no discussion could start without mentioning Mika Hakkinen’s pass over Michael Schumacher in the 2000 F1 season.
Here’s the video.
This race was at Spa in 2000 where the Ferrari was quite competitive and comparable with the McLarens. In the previous two years (1999 and 1998), Ferrari was only playing a catch-up game. In 2000, they were right up there with the McLaren team, barring this one, of course.
The onboard camera from Mika’s car shows how fast the McLaren was on the straights. Part of it was attributed to the fact that it had rained and Schumacher continued to be on intermediates while Mika was on slicks. As the track dried up, Mika’s brilliance came to the fore.
Here is another outside view of the same overtake.
Until Mika pulled off the double pass, it was not even apparent that three cars at more than 300 kmph could stand side by side on that track. Only when we see them side by side do we realise that the road is indeed wide.
That also goes to show that that kind of overtake never happened before and quite possibly never after.
But you've got to agree with one thing - the best seat to watch the overtake was Zonta's seat in that Honda car. Right?
So, let's take a look at Zonta's view of the overtake.
Zonta's View of Spa 2000 Overtake
It is amusing to see Zonta's helmet moving from the left rearview mirror to the right one, seeing both Schumacher and Mika storming towards him. To his credit, Zonta did well to steer clear of both Schumacher and Mika. Way after his retirement, Mika looked back at this overtake and quipped that Mr Zonta would have had to change his pants after the race.
And now let's look at the post-race conference where both the drivers talk about the overtake.
So, that’s that of Mika storming past Michael.
Senna Overtakes the World
At times, even unmatched F1 cars on the track could become equals when it starts raining. When talking about rain and the skills of the F1 legend Ayrton Senna, we cannot ignore Donnington in 1993.
This was a race where Ayrton gained four positions in just 40 seconds to take first place, and that 40 seconds was within the first lap. That day was full of rain. In that chaos, Senna was a lap ahead of everyone and finished first. Only Hill was on the same lap as Senna, but he was a distant second.
Senna had many firsts to his name. He was the only driver to gain four positions within a lap, he did the fastest lap of the day when he went through the pits (There were no speed limiters in pits back then. Senna didn’t stop for the pits, though), he lapped everyone barring the second place Hill and he stopped a relatively less number of times when compared to the seven times that Prost stopped.
That race was full of Senna magic!
Did You Know?
Alain Prost's seven pitstops at Donnington 1993 was the most in a race.
Alain blamed that on the weather intelligence that the team got, leading them to change tires to wet when the track was turning dry and vice-versa.
Michael Schumacher Overtaking Jean Alesi in 1995
This race had one of Schumacher’s best overtakes. He passed Jean Alesi in a turn where not more than one F1 car could go through and yet he came out trumps. It was the year when Schumacher won his second world championship.
Here is the overtake.
By the way, Schumacher is in the Benneton and not the Ferrari. This was the year (1995) when Schumacher was still with Benneton. It was only in 1996 that Schumacher joined Ferrari for the first time.
Back to the Garage
Competing F1 cars always have a charm and beauty when they overtake the other, and it would have to do primarily with the driver at the wheel of the vehicle.
I hope you all enjoyed looking at a few of the best overtakes in the F1 world!
Which was your favorite overtake?
Questions & Answers
© 2019 S K