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Formula 1

What will and won’t count as an overtake for F1’s new award

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Formula 1’s new overtaking award will set the highest possible bar for what counts as an eligible pass and the system will be overseen manually to verify it is working correctly.

The award for the driver who completes the most overtaking moves during the season has been launched with a new commercial partner, Crypto.com.

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F1’s initial announcement contained no additional detail on how the overtakes would be tallied although it did claim that by F1’s calculations Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel currently leads the overtaking award standings.

The Race understands that F1 will use the various timing loops around the track – the so-called mini-sectors within each of the three main sectors – to determine whether a position change has occurred.

Overtakes must happen with both cars on-track. If either driver is in the pitlane, including the entry or pitlane exit, it will not be counted. The two safety car lines will determine the extent of the pitlane area.

F1 will only register passes made by drivers on the same lap as each other, so passing lapped cars will not count.

If a position change occurs because a car retires or goes off while not in battle, or suffers an issue like a puncture or mechanical problem, it will not count as an overtake either.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Portuguese Grand Prix Race Day Portimao, Portugal

Position changes under the safety car or in red flag conditions will not be counted.

Any pass that satisfies the above conditions will also count on the opening lap as the grid position will be treated as the first timing loop.

In support of the new award, F1 will include new graphics “to signal overtaking possibilities and potential moves” in its TV broadcasts.

The standings will also be updated after every race weekend.

The Race says…

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Race Day Imola, Italy

It was easy to scoff at F1’s new overtaking award (I did) and consider it a gimmick and nothing more. However, like all new things, it’s better to consider all the information before rushing to judgement and being pretentious just because it seems unworthy of ‘proper’ recognition.

And actually, now we’ve learned what F1’s system will be, the idea has a lot of merit. Weeding out things like overtakes during the pitstops is a very important part.

There are still minor issues. F1 initially advertised it as an award “designed to celebrate the bravery exhibited by drivers who make bold moves in pursuit of success” but we know that’s just good marketing speak.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Race Day Budapest, Hungary

For every bold overtake in F1 there are probably three or four drag reduction system-assisted drive-bys.

Chances are this award will be dominated by out-of-position underperformers in qualifying who rack up passes with the help of DRS.

F1’s system also can’t distinguish between strategies that drop faster cars back and force them to reclaim track position, mainly through such drive-bys. But strategy is tricky to account for so to be snooty over that would be unnecessary and unfair.

This award will crown a driver ‘king of overtaking’ based on quantity when we all know what’s impressive about overtaking is the quality of the pass.

But celebrating overtaking is not a crime. And this is a decent solution to doing that without going as far as awarding bonus points for a statistic that will always be subject to division.

More importantly, F1 has made a proper attempt at establishing a serious methodology that gives the concept a legitimacy I – and likely many others – prematurely assumed it would be missing.

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