F1’s best ever overtakes

There have been over 900 Grands Prix in Formula one’s 67-year history and in that time, there’s been thousands of overtaking manoeuvres. Overtakes are probably the most exciting aspect to F1 races and motorsport in general, there’s nothing quite like seeing two cars going wheel-to-wheel down a straight or one driver diving down the inside of another into a hairpin. We’ve all got a favourite or two, and with that in mind, here are mine and Essaar’s Top 10 Formula 1 overtakes of all-time.

10: Alan Jones on Alain Prost and Rene Arnoux – Germany 1981

Halfway through the race, Alan Jones was attempting to pass Alain Prost for the lead but the Renault’s turbocharged engine made this a nearly-impossible task on the Hockenheimring’s long straights. The only way for Jones to get past in his normally-aspirated Williams would be in the slower “stadium” section of the circuit. On Lap 21 of 45, Prost was lapping his teammate, Rene Arnoux going into the Sachs-kurve when Jones saw his opportunity. Prost was lackadaisical in his move on Arnoux and thought that Jones wouldn’t have been brave enough to dive in between the Renault’s, but he was wrong. Jones was the last of the late-brakers and flung his Williams into a gap just wide enough to pass them both in one move. Sensational.

9: Fernando Alonso on Mark Webber and Felipe Massa – Brazil 2012

Alonso Webber Massa Brazil 2012
Image credit: Motor Sport Magazine

Another double overtake but this time, both passes were for position. Fernando Alonso needed to finish on the podium for the final race of 2012 to have any chance of winning the driver’s title that year. When his championship rival, Sebastian Vettel, got caught up in a first-lap incident and dropped to the back of the grid, the Ferrari man had a great chance to win an unlikely title.

Going into Turn 1 on the second lap, Alonso had to get by his teammate and Mark Webber to move up into the top 3. It was vital to get by Webber, as he would do everything to hold up Fernando and back him into Vettel. The pressure was on, this was a make or break moment and Fernando, as he so often did, delivered spectacularly. He stunningly out-braked both Felipe Massa and Webber to slip down the inside and begin chasing after the McLarens.

8: Ayrton Senna on Schumacher, Wendlinger, Hill and Prost – Europe 1993

Senna Donnington Europe 1993
Image credit: Pinterest

Donnington Park was soaking wet after a deluge had hit earlier in the morning, this was Ayrton Senna’s time to shine. After being crowded out by Michael Schumacher at the start, Senna had dropped to fifth place by the first corner. Schumacher, though, ran slightly wide and Senna powered by the German before sweeping around Karl Wendlinger at Turn 3. Senna then chased after Damon Hill and made quick work of him, passing at Turn 7. Only Alain Prost now stood between Senna and the lead but not even a three-time world champion could resist Senna in this form. He closed up to Prost through the Esses and sent his McLaren down the inside at the Melbourne Hairpin.

In one lap Senna had gone from fifth to first in a car that was much slower than the Williamses and in appalling bad weather conditions. All four moves were brilliant because of the circumstances, but if I were to pick one it would be the move on Wendlinger, Senna made a very difficult move look incredibly easy and it wasn’t too dissimilar to Max Verstappen’s move on Nico Rosberg in Brazil last year.

7: Nigel Mansell on Nelson Piquet – Britain 1987

Mansell Piquet Britain 1987

In 1987, the Williams drivers were in a class of their own and they were comfortably leading that year’s Grand Prix at Silverstone. Nelson Piquet lead his teammate, Nigel Mansell, by a couple of seconds at the halfway stage when the latter decided to pit for new tyres. With no threat from behind, Mansell drove the car like he had stolen it, breaking the lap record eight times while catching up to Piquet. Piquet, though, wasn’t going to make it easy and with a few laps to go, still held the lead.

On Lap 62 of 65, Mansell got a great run on the Hangar Straight and was bearing down on his team-mate. Nigel blinked first and shifted to the left, Piquet covered that line off but Mansell was banking on that. Mansell then dived over to the right to take the racing line and sweep passed Piquet to eventually win the race. This manoeuvre later became known as “the dummy” and would go on to become Mansell’s signature move.

6: Nigel Mansell on Gerhard Berger – Mexico 1990

Nigel Mansell was right behind Gerhard Berger in the closing laps of the 1990 Mexican Grand Prix. Berger had successfully held off Mansell for a number of laps so Nigel had to get creative with his move. Mansell stuck with Berger through the twisty S-section at Hermanos Rodriguez. However, the two were bearing down on the terrifying Peraltada, a heavily banked 180-degree right-hander that only had one real line going through it. But nobody told Il Leone that.

Nigel tried to throw a dummy, but Berger didn’t fall for it, so Mansell instead went around the outside of the McLaren driver to sweep into second place. A scarcely believable move because of the sheer bravery that was required. It’s a shame that the new layout of Hermanos Rodriguez has butchered the final corner, we’ll never see a move like that in Mexico City again. Although, Turn 17 of the new layout is named “Mansell” in Nigel’s honour, no doubt partly because of that manoeuvre.

5: Nelson Piquet on Ayrton Senna – Hungary 1986

Piquet Senna Hungary 1986
Image credit: Youtube

The first Grand Prix behind the Iron Curtain also gave us one of Formula 1’s best ever overtakes. Ayrton Senna led the race from pole position since the start but Nelson Piquet passed him in the early stages. Senna got back passed his fellow Brazilian in the pit-stop phase but Piquet would once again close the gap in his superior Williams. By Lap 53 of 76, Piquet was once again on Senna’s gearbox going onto the pit-straight. The Hungaroring is a notoriously tricky circuit to overtake on and Ayrton Senna was an infamously hard man to get passed, so the move had to be clinical.

Senna positioned his Lotus in the middle of the road to make it as wide, and as difficult, to pass as possible. However, Piquet defied the odds to lunge his Williams down the inside, on the dirty line with full opposite lock on his steering to masterfully take the lead.

4: Gilles Villeneuve on Rene Arnoux – France 1979

Full Race Report: http://essaar.co.uk/classic-races-1979-french-grand-prix/

Villeneuve Arnoux France 1979
Image Credit: Formula One Art & Genius

The 1979 French Grand Prix is one of F1’s finest ever because of two men, Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux. Their battle for second place in the closing stages had more overtakes and close racing in it than some Grand Prix have to show in their entirety. The Renault cars had a huge advantage over the rest of the field down the long pit-straight at Dijon because of their turbocharged engines but Villeneuve held of Arnoux’s advances for a number of laps.

However, Arnoux got by going into the first corner with just a few laps to go. Villeneuve, though, showed the determination that he has become synonymous with to stay with the Renault and throw his Ferrari down the inside into Turn 1. The Canadian locked all four wheels, smoke was pouring everywhere but he made it, an incredible move. Arnoux probably never saw if coming and who could blame him? That shouldn’t have been possible. In the end, they finished just a quarter of a second apart after swapping positions a barely-believable six times on the last lap alone.

3: Fernando Alonso on Michael Schumacher – Japan 2005

Full race report: http://essaar.co.uk/classic-races-2005-japanese-grand-prix/

A wet qualifying session had shaken up the grid for the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix with the likes of Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso both starting well outside the Top 10. Both had sliced through the slower cars at impressive speed but by Lap 19, Alonso was now attempting to pass Schumacher for fifth. Alonso was clearly faster but the seven-time world champion was placing his Ferrari perfectly to defend from the Spaniard. However, even the most prolific champion in F1 history could do nothing about what came next. Alonso got a fantastic run out of Spoon corner, picked up the slipstream and swooped around the outside of the 130R.

A 180 miles-per-hour move around the outside of one of F1’s most dangerous corners is nothing to be sniffed at, it was an incredible move. Michael probably couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed, just like the viewers at home.

2: Mark Webber on Fernando Alonso – Belgium 2011

Mark Webber had made a typically poor start and dropped several positions as a result. The Red Bull team called the Australian in for an early pit-stop to attempt to make up a few positions. A few laps later, Fernando Alonso emerged from the pits just ahead of Webber, but the latter had the greater momentum on the run down to the terrifying Eau Rogue corner. Alonso recognised the threat of Webber and moved left to block that side of the track. It appeared as if there wasn’t a Red-Bull-sized gap between Alonso’s Ferrari and the grass but Webber snuck through regardless.

They went into the lowest point of the circuit absolutely neck and neck, side-by-side, it was unbelievable how close they were. Webber prevailed, though, Alonso had to let him by or there would’ve been an airplane crash. The image of them going into one of F1’s most famous corners so close is one that fans will likely never forget.

True Aussie Grit.

1: Mika Hakkinen on Michael Schumacher – Belgium 2000

Schumacher Hakkinen Belgium 2000
Image credit: Pinterest

After a wet start at Spa-Francorchamps, the track had dried out and Mika Hakkinen was leading and looking comfortable out front. But a spin on Lap 13 cost him valuable time and dropped him behind his great rival, Michael Schumacher. The two of them were driving on their limits and Hakkinen had closed in on Schumacher in the closing laps. Mika’s McLaren seemed faster in a straight line than Michael’s Ferrari and he got a great run on the German going up the long Kemmel Straight. Schumacher wasn’t having any of it though, and he closed off Hakkinen by squeezing him onto the grass.

That aggressive move did not deter Hakkinen, in fact it seemed to spur him on as the Finn went flat up Eau Rogue (an extremely brave and dangerous feat at the time) and was once again flying up behind Schumacher. But a slow Ricardo Zonta threatened to put pay to his challenge. Schumacher went to the left, Hakkinen instinctively dived to the right and amazingly it was the McLaren that went into Les Combes first.

Hakkinen and McLaren delighted, Schumacher and Ferrari stunned, and Zonta was likely left with brown overalls after that. Michael Schumacher has said that Hakkinen was the only driver that he used to fear racing against and this was a perfect example why. The speed differential between the two leaders and the backmarker was incredible and that is why this move tops our list.

Did your favourite move not make the list? Or do you disagree with the order? Let us know in the comments below!

This piece is also available on essaar.co.uk via the links below:

Part 1: http://essaar.co.uk/f1-top-10-overtakes-part-1/

Part 2: http://essaar.co.uk/f1-top-10-overtakes-part-2/

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