Ranking the Top 10 Overtaking Manoeuvres in F1 History
With the recent announcement that Felipe Massa will no longer be a Ferrari driver after the end of the current season and the fact that it is the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend, I was reminded about one of the great overtaking moves in recent times.
Massa was chasing Bruno Senna’s Williams in last year’s event and tracked him for the best part of a lap before the Brazilian made a slight error into the chicane. It still took Massa no shortage of skill and bravery to dive up the inside, almost contacting both Senna and the wall while wrestling his snaking Ferrari under control and making the move stick.
But will Massa’s effort make our top 10 list? He’s up against some tough competition.
Much of the real excitement of Formula One racing comes through witnessing gutsy overtaking manoeuvres.
Bearing in mind that the championship has been running since 1950, there have been thousands of such great overtakes, and it’s a massive task to select just 10.
Who will forget Nigel Mansell going wheel-to-wheel with Ayrton Senna down the straight at the Circuit de Catalunya in 1991 before squeezing down the inside? Or Kimi Raikkonen’s gutsy Eau Rouge overtake on Michael Schumacher at Spa-Francorchamps last year?
They can’t all make the list, but if you think I’ve left any top contenders out or even have the order wrong, please let us know but commenting below.
But first, fasten your seatbelts and relive these 10 classics.
10. Felipe Massa on Bruno Senna, Singapore 2012
Perhaps for sentimental reasons but moreso because it’s such a gutsy pass, Massa squeezes into the top 10 for the aforementioned reasons.
It’s best left for Massa himself to describe the action.
9. Sebastian Vettel on Fernando Alonso, Italy 2011
The reigning world champion sneaks into the top 10 for his gutsy overtaking move on title rival Fernando Alonso around the outside at Curva Grande, putting two wheels on the grass before making the move stick.
A year later, Alonso tried the same move on Vettel, but the German squeezed him even wider and the Ferrari driver was unable to pass.
Vettel commented in an interview with BBC Sport:
Blimey! I mean obviously knew from the lap before that it’s possible down to the second chicane. I had a very good exit the lap after and was able to get into Fernando’s tow and thought if I move right he has the inside and for sure he will hand brake the car somehow, stepping on the brakes like a crazy and hand braking into the corner and still manage to stay ahead.
So I decided to go left and I think he didn’t see me in the beginning and I was with two wheels on the grass and fortunately turn 3 opened up down to turn 4 and I stayed flat out and saw the opportunity of passing.
8. Ayrton Senna on Schumacher, Wendlinger, Hill and Prost, Donington Park 1993
Surely one of the greatest individual laps ever driven came from the great Ayrton Senna at the 1993 European Grand Prix at Donington Park.
Senna found himself fifth at the end of the opening lap but used his mastery of the wet conditions to pass no fewer than four cars on the opening lap en route to a superb victory.
7. Gilles Villeneuve on Rene Arnoux, France 1979
One of the most exciting finishes to a Grand Prix ever saw Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve in a see-saw battle with Renault’s Rene Arnoux at Dijon.
A wheel-banging duel saw the protagonists twice overtake one another in the final two laps before Villeneuve held out for a breathtaking second place.
6. Fernando Alonso on Michael Schumacher, Suzuka 2005
Suzuka’s famous 130R corner is universally regarded by drivers as the most challenging on the calendar.
Alonso was involved in a battle with Schumacher for position, but the bigger picture was to get ahead of the German in his pursuit of title rival Kimi Raikkonen.
And after a battle that lasted several laps, Alonso nailed Schumacher with an incredible move around the outside at 130R.
5. Nigel Mansell on Ayrton Senna, Hungary 1989
Without doubt one of the bravest drivers of the 1980s and 1990s, Nigel Mansell made a name for himself with his daring overtaking and bullish driving.
Mansell moved from Williams to Ferrari for the 1989 season and was soon nicknamed “Il Leone” by the passionate Tifosi for those very reasons.
He harried Senna for several laps as the couple vied for the lead until they came up to lap Stefan Johansson’s Onyx. Sensing his opportunity, Mansell swept out of Senna’s slipstream with the Brazilian momentarily distracted by the backmarker and passed both for a lead he would not relinquish.
4. Mark Webber on Alonso, Belgium 2012
Not many drivers are courageous enough to try to overtake into the daunting Eau Rouge at Spa-Francorchamps.
Only the bravest attempt the famous left-right uphill kink flat out, and many have come a cropper trying to do so.
But during the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix it’s exactly what Mark Webber did against one of the toughest competitors the sport has known, inches from touching the Spaniard’s wheels and putting two of his own on the kerb before blasting past his title rival.
3. Mika Hakkinen on Michael Schumacher, Belgium 2000
Another world champion driving a Ferrari fell victim to even more breathtaking pass at Spa-Francorchamps, although not at the same part of the circuit.
Schumacher led Hakkinen coming up to lap backmarker Ricardo Zonta into Les Combes. The Finn slipstreamed his German rival before diving to the right of the BAR as Schumacher went left and edging ahead into the right-hander.
It proved enough to give Hakkinen victory although Schumacher would take the title.
2. Nigel Mansell on Nelson Piquet, Silverstone 1987
Mansell’s second entry on the list comes courtesy of his brilliant move on arch-rival and Williams teammate Nelson Piquet at the 1987 British Grand Prix.
Mansell stalked Piquet relentlessly and it only seemed a matter of time until he would get past.
But when it came it was spectacular, the Englishman selling Piquet a deft dummy into Stowe, jinking left before ducking right and grabbing the lead on the inside with just two laps to go.
It proved enough for victory as hordes of adoring fans swamped the circuit on Mansell’s victory lap.
1. Nelson Piquet on Ayrton Senna, Hungary 1986
There was never much love lost between Brazilian rivals Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna, Piquet labelling his younger counterpart a “Sao Paulo Taxi Driver.”
Piquet was already a two-time world champion but Senna had established himself as a star of the future with some dazzling drives but at the new Hungaroring circuit, Piquet was determined to show the young pretender who was boss.
Having started from pole, Senna led until Piquet tried an audacious move around the outside and made it stick with bagful of opposite lock into Turn 1. It was a move straight out of the go-kart manual.