According to data published by Pirelli, overtaking moves fell by a margin of 47% across the 20-race season in 2017. Formula 1’s official tyre supplier recorded the lowest average number of passes per race since it returned to the sport in 2011. It was also the lowest overtaking figure for any season in F1’s seven-year DRS era. Going into the season there had been fears that whilst the more aggressive aerodynamic regulations would result in fast lap-times, there would be greater difficulty in overtaking due to a larger turbulent wake from the wider wings.
Pirelli’s analysis indicates that 435 overtaking moves* were performed during the 2017 season, an average of almost 22 per race. This compares to 866 passes during the 2016 season (albeit, with an additional race on the calendar), and an average of 41.23 passes per race. 2017 also saw less overtaking than in 2015 – which prior to this year held the record for the least amount of passes in a season – with just 506 overtakes recorded.
In addition to the greater aerodynamic turbulence, Pirelli has also cited the durable range of tyre that it brought to the races in 2017 as a factor in the reduction in overtaking. One-stop races have been a routine occurrence in 2017 with 15 out of 20 races won by a single-stop strategy. For reference, the high degradation policy of Pirelli’s first three seasons as F1’s official tyre suppliers resulted in markedly more overtaking. Strikingly, 2011 saw an average of almost 59 overtakes per race.
The highest number of overtakes recorded during a race in 2017 was 42, during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, whilst just a single overtake was logged during the Russian Grand Prix in April. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Red Bull Racing‘s Daniel Ricciardo racked-up the highest season total, with some 43 passes registered. The Australian also notched up the highest total from a single race, managing some 13 overtakes at the British Grand Prix as he recovered from a gearbox failure in qualifying.
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton jointly have the accolade of the drivers that were overtaken least, having been passed just twice all season. Lance Stroll, perhaps a reflection of the Canadian’s rather bleak Saturday performances, enjoys the honour of being the driver who produced the most moves on the first lap of races; some 36 over the course of the season.
* Pirelli’s working definition of an overtake is a move that “takes place during complete flying laps (so not on the opening lap) and is then maintained all the way to the lap’s finish line” and did not include position changes due to major mechanical problems, lapping and un-lapping.”