Vote for the best pass of 2009

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Which driver did the best job of passing his rivals in 2009?
Which driver did the best job of passing his rivals in 2009?

Who pulled off the best overtaking move of 2009? These top ten choices have been whittled down from dozens of suggestions made by F1 Fanatic readers.

If you’re mind’s already made up cast your vote now, or see below for the best arguments in favour of each of them and videos of the passes.

What was the best pass of 2009?

  • Malaysia: Mark Webber on Fernando Alonso (5%)
  • China: Lewis Hamilton on Kimi Raikkonen (9%)
  • Bahrain: Jenson Button on Lewis Hamilton (8%)
  • Spain: Mark Webber on Fernando Alonso (9%)
  • Monaco: Nico Rosberg on Felipe Massa (4%)
  • Belgium: Kimi Raikkonen on Giancarlo Fisichella (17%)
  • Japan: Heikki Kovalainen on Giancarlo Fisichella (3%)
  • Brazil: Jenson Button on Romain Grosjean (13%)
  • Brazil: Kamui Kobayashi on Kazuki Nakajima (7%)
  • Abu Dhabi: Kamui Kobayashi on Jenson Button (25%)

Total Voters: 2,252

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Malaysia: Mark Webber on Fernando Alonso

If Fernando Alonso learned anything this season it’s that Mark Webber does not go down without a fight. Twice the Red Bull driver reversed Alonso’s passing attempts in fine style – and both of them were nominated in this top ten.

Very good pass on a car with KERS and Alonso is very tough racer.

China: Lewis Hamilton on Kimi Raikkonen

As the rain hammered down at Shanghai Lewis Hamilton tentatively emerged from the cloud of spray behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari and navigated around the outside of him at turn seven. Impressive driving in foul conditions.

Hamilton on Raikkonnen on the outside in the wet at Shanghai was the one that immediately came to mind when I saw the topic of this article. So, that?s the one the gets my vote for sure.

Bahrain: Jenson Button on Lewis Hamilton

With Hamilton’s McLaren out of its KERS boost as he returned to the start/finish line for the first time at Bahrain, Button had a precious chance to get past him. Diving off-line onto the dusty part of the track Button nailed his braking point and scrambled ahead.

For me, the best move was Button on Hamilton at Bahrain. Against a car with a theoretical advantage due to KERS, it was clean, precise, fair and masterful. It?s moves like that that won him the world champion.

Spain: Mark Webber on Fernando Alonso

A re-take of Webber’s gutsy ‘reversal’ on Alonso from Sepang, but this time Webber had less space to work with.

As he swung back to the inside I thought “this’ll end in tears”. But credit to both of them, they stayed on the circuit and Webber kept his position.

The Spaniard using KERS to make his way past Webber, only for the Aussie coming back through under braking into Turn 1 was inspired.

Monaco: Nico Rosberg on Felipe Massa

Opportunities to pass a rival at Monaco are few and far between. So when Felipe Massa cut the chicane trying to pass Sebastian Vettel, the chasing Nico Rosberg knew he had a chance.

While Massa pulled over to let Vettel by, Rosberg glued himself to the back of the Red Bull and, with mere millimetres separating him from Massa, squeezed by into Tabac. A pity Williams then screwed up his pit stop strategy.

Rosberg on Massa at Monaco was scary. Didn?t realise it was that close during the race.

Belgium: Kimi Raikkonen on Giancarlo Fisichella

Kimi R??ikk??nen in second place with a KERS button, a safety car restart… Giancarlo Fisichella was a sitting duck.

It was a great move, and given the fact that Fisichella was on his back for the rest of the race?? one hell of an overtake.

Japan: Heikki Kovalainen on Giancarlo Fisichella

Inspired stuff from Heikki Kovalainen who mugged Fisichella as the pair left the pits. A pity he’d ruined his race by blundering into Adrian Sutil a few laps earlier. This pass was for 13th place.

If only Heikki had shown this level of hunger/determination all season.

Brazil: Kamui Kobayashi on Kazuki Nakajima

Kamui Kobayashi won an instant fan following for his refusal to back down in wheel-to-wheel racing. This round-the-outside pass on countryman Kazuki Nakajima probably shouldn’t have worked – but it did.

Showed skill and control without being too dangerous in his first ever F1 race (must have wounded Nakajima?s pride badly).

Brazil: Jenson Button on Romain Grosjean

I have nothing to add to Tim’s brilliant argument in favour of this pass:

Put yourself in Jenson?s shoes. The title is within your grasp in Brazil, but you need to finish the race and score points to clinch it. There?s a Renault ahead but is it Alonso or Grosjean? Alonso would probably be hard but fair, the last time you tangled with Grosjean you both crashed at Spa.

Grosjean has absolutely nothing to lose if you both crash, he needs to impress to secure a drive for next year. You?re alongside him on the outside of a long, fast, tightening bend, barely ahead. Even if he gives you room he might accidentally drift wide and then you?ll both crash??

Button had an awful lot at stake, Grosjean had nothing to lose. There may have been a few technically better or more innovative passes in 2009, but no one put as much on the line as Jenson did here. My stand out memory from the season just gone.

Abu Dhabi: Kamui Kobayashi on Jenson Button

Yes, Kobayashi was only able to get a run on Button because the Brawn driver had pitted recently.

But give him credit – he took the opportunity presented to him and if he hadn’t seized it he wouldn’t have ended the race ahead of team mate Jarno Trulli. And he might not have earned a place at Sauber for 2010.

Watch out newly crowned world drivers’ champion – here is the rookie. And considering all the other drivers that came into the series mid/late season… Class.

Honourable mentions

A few of the fine passes to narrowly miss out on the short list were Alonso’s move on Trulli at Bahrain (a favourite of mine), Webber’s on Button at Shanghai and the Hamilton-Alonso battle at Silverstone.

Read more: What was the best pass of 2009? (Video)

Image (C) Ferrari spa

88 comments on “Vote for the best pass of 2009”

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  1. Why is Rubens passing Webber around the outside at Blochemont at Spa not there? I think that was the best move. Rubens was fighting his way up after a bad start and Webber was in much faster Red Bull car.

    1. I can’t belive that Webbers pass on Button in China didn’t make it to the top ten. And in conditions as bad as they were makes it all the more impresive.

      1. I agree I’d have probably voted for that one.

        1. at 9:41 of the vid there is #1 almost fisicly impossible Glock on hungary that type of corner is incredible unbelivable whatch that overtake

          1. even though i chose Raikkonen pass because of the speed the lack of space importance and nuts

  2. It says in the poll results that kobayashi overtook button at brazil but im sure it was at abu dhabi :)

    1. Fixed it, thanks for letting me know.

  3. Expect to see this poll hijacked my Kimi fans… sorry but his KERS assisted move on Fisi was not the best move of 2009.

  4. after some debate, i voted for kobyashi. spectacular stuff from someone just thrown to the lions.

  5. Prisoner Monkeys
    24th December 2009, 8:01

    It’s got to be JB taking Grosjean in Brazil. It started at the end of Reta Oposta and ended up going around the outside of Pininherino. I have never seen anyone make that stick before.

    I think it will be a travesty if Kamui Kobayashi’s pass in Abu Dhabi wins. Seriously. It will be a testament to every over-rated driver who has ever been in the sport. This is why:

    If you watched qualifying, you would have noticed that Abu Dhabi was the only race of the season where all the drivers stayed out on the circuit once Q3 had begun. Martin Brundle mentioned it at some point during the rac; one of the little quirks of the Yas Marina circuit is that tyres take much longer to get up to speed there than they do at every other circuit. The end result is that drivers take longer to get their tyres up to temperature, but the tyres also have a longer life.

    So when JB came out of the pits, he was on green tyres, and he wouldn’t be up to pace for a few laps. Likewise, he was fuelled quite heavily. Kobayashi, on the other hand, was one-stopping and maybe three-quarters of the way through his stint. So he had low fuel, and given the character of the circuit, his tyres would have been in better condition than if this were any other race of the season.

    Kobayashi got Button on his outlap. What’s more, JB moved over. He knew Kobayashi was there, he knew the Toyota driver had a better package tyre- and fuel-wise, and he also knew that Kobayashi was inexperienced. Button had raised the issue over the radio in Brazil. Just because he was the World Champion and couldn’t be beaten didn’t mean he was going to throw away a potential (and, as it happened, eventual) podium place. Especially since he knew he was no match for Kobayashi on the straight after the hairpin.

    Given the circumstances, I could have passed Button if I were in Kobayashi’s car. Kobayashi’s pass was by no means spectaular; in fact, it was downright dangerous, because the way I remember it, he came very close to tagging Button, which would have ended the race.

    Kobayashi can’t win this poll. Not when there were other brilliant moves rife throughout the season. I’m not saying he’s untalented, but I think far too much is being made of his inexperience, with people dressing it up as fearlessness.

    1. Well said dude, I really feel that this pass and Raikkonen’s pass on Fisichella shouldn’t be in this poll.

      My vote goes to Button on Hamilton – Bahrain.

    2. I thought much more of Kobayashi’s pass on Nakajima to be honest. This was one of those passes that only really happened because of the fuel/tyres situation. I’m not sure Button let him by though, it looked more to me like he out-braked himself.

      1. I agree. The pass on Button at Abu Dhabi was inevitable. It was a great pass by a Rookie and really nice to watch, but it wasn’t the best all year.
        The pass on Nakajima at Brazil had some resemblance to Montoya vs. Schumacher in 2001 (at least in my opinion). But I have to say that I don’t know about the strategies in this case since I wasn’t able to watch the Brazil GP :(

    3. Given the circumstances, I could have passed Button if I were in Kobayashi’s car.


      Kobayashi can’t win this poll.

      He can its called other peoples opinion

      1. Kobayashi can’t win this poll.

        Sorry I didn’t read the “vote’s not agreeing with Prisoner Monkey will not be counted” bit

        1. Prisoner Monkeys
          24th December 2009, 9:11

          He can its called other peoples opinion

          Sorry I didn’t read the “vote’s not agreeing with Prisoner Monkey will not be counted” bit

          Thank you to the both of you for taking my quotes completely out of context simply to justify your own position. It’s really apprciated.

          1. PM is absolutely right. It was good to see a rookie not afraid to mix it up with the champion, but it was hardly pass of the year. Same with Kimi on Fisi – he had KERS, it was inevitable. I’ll be somewhat disappointed if either of these two win, as there are many other passes there which relied a lot more heavily on driver skill than just circumstance.

          2. It was good to see a rookie not afraid to mix it up with the champion, but it was hardly pass of the year.

            Quite right. Even in the league of rookie not being afraid of mixing it with a champion, there are much better examples – Montoya on Schumacher in Brazil 2001, Wurz on Schumacher in Monaco 1998, Alesi on Senna at Phoenix 1990…

          3. And thank you for telling everyone not to vote for that move just because it was against Button. really appreciated

            He even out braked himself into the corner to purposely let Kobayashi through. What great driving *SARCASM*

            Let us make up our own mind

          4. I like Kobayashi alot,I think he has guts.I do agree with PrisonerMonkeys on this one though.It is no different than people voting Kimi as driver of the year simply because it was his last season.It would be voting with your head instead of your head.We all like the new rookie but,he has alot to prove.

          5. * that should read: “voting with your HEART instead of your HEAD”

    4. Button passing Grosjean can’t win this poll either. Grosjean is timid and was afraid of making contact with Button. A veteran driver in the pole sitting car against a rookie with half a dozen races and one of the worst cars in that race.

      1. You’ve missed the point – Grosjean may (and I stress “may”) have backed out of it, but Button had no way of knowing that when he committed to the move around the outside of the corner. In fact, the last time Button and Grosjean had come anywhere near each other for position was when Grosjean took Button off at Spa.

        If you’ve watched Grosjean’s progress through F3 and GP2 you’d have known that he’s anything but timid behind the wheel of a racing car. He’s no stranger to contact either.

        Button put everything on the line to pass Grosjean, whereas Grosjean had absolutely nothing to lose. It’s one thing to try a pass knowing that you may lose a couple of points at most, it’s a completely league knowing that an entire world championship campaign rests on the move coming off.

        1. Exactly you can argue for and against any move.

          Button’s was similar move to Vettels one at the same corner on Rubens but Rubens fought harder against him for it.

        2. Button’s pass on Grosjean was an OK move at the time, but the fact that another 5 or 6 drivers followed him through soon after diminishes it a lot in hindsight

          1. Agree with Ned and Grosjean is a rookie. I do think it was a great pass which required a certain amount of bravery but runs the risk of being overrated. But it’s ok I miss disagreeing with PM over Button…looking forward to many more debates on the live blog next year :) :P
            I don’t feel Kobayahi’s was the best of the season either at Abu Dhabi. He impressed me much more in Brazil especially with Nakajima (until their coming together).

        3. Grosjean – rookie in one of the (if not THE) worst cars of field. Button – years of experience in the best car of the field.

          Sure the pass took some doing, but, c’mon.

    5. I find myself agreeing with my incarcerated primate friend.

    6. I think it will be a travesty if Kamui Kobayashi’s pass in Abu Dhabi wins.

      Saying stuff like that is why Kobayashi will win.

    7. Agreed with the Abu Dhabi move, although he did set up the pass quite well, his car must have been a lot better at the time.

      Not sure about Kimi on Fisi though, to make it work he had to keep right on him through the restart, and it was basically his only opportunity (no, I’m not a big kimi fan either), but I voted for Webber on Alonso in Barcelona as that gave me the biggest rush when I was watching it.

  6. pfft, the best move of the year kimi using his KERS to overtake a slower force india.. my vote was webber on alonso at sepang, keeping and overtaking a KERS car

    1. The FI was the quickest car at Spa, the Ferrari probably 4th fastest, maybe 3rd. Kimi worked his magic.

  7. hey!wat happen to me comment?

  8. Got to be kovy on Fisi for the sheer uniqueness,ingenuity and cheek! That’s what overtaking is all about not a realy heavy car moving out of the way of a light one! Although top marks to kobayashi for the nakajima overtake. But. Back to the point hakinens on Schumacher was the best of the 00’s for me for the same reasons as this was the best of 09 cheek and oportunism that could easily have gone wrong.

  9. I think Kobayashi’s move on Button (although I did like his one on Nakajima)

    Yes Button was on his out lap but Kamui had that one chance to get passed and he barged his way past the newly crowned world champion in only his second race to do it. With that move he seems to have made a lot of fans, one of them me :)

    1. Yes Button was on his out lap but Kamui had that one chance to get passed

      I don’t agree – Kobayashi was much lighter on fuel, his car was quicker and remained quicker until he came into the pits – look at the difference in his and Button’s times from lap 20 to 29:

      1. Any other rookie (e.g Alguersuari) would have just let Button go into the distance, even if they knew they could get past him.

        1. EXACTLY, good point slr! can’t stand that attitude from the other rookies like Alguersuari. Kobyashi was racing brilliantly.;)

        2. Yes but any other driver with a couple of year’s experience would have done the same move, and it wouldn’t have been thought of as good enough to be an option to vote for. It was good by rookie standards, not incredible by other drivers standards.

  10. Maybe with lap times but normally if they don’t overtake straight away they get into the “dirty air” and have to stay behind them about a second back – even if they are faster.

    I get what you mean though but I still voted for this one :P

    1. I’ve got nothing against Kobayashi, but how can you honestly say that was THE BEST pass of 2009?

      1. Because it was a good battle for the position

      2. because all the others were pretty average too. its not like 2009 was a vintage year for overtaking moves…

  11. Keith, you can go way deeper in analysis on some of these. An example

    China: Lewis Hamilton on Kimi Raikkonen

    As the rain hammered down at Shanghai Lewis Hamilton tentatively emerged from the cloud of spray behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari and navigated around the outside of him at turn seven. Impressive driving in foul conditions.

    This was under wet conditions. Here’s speed trap data:

    Please note where Hamilton is on that chart and where Raikkonen is. Now think about what that means. I expect only a fraction of this blog’s readership to understand the implications of that table.

    Obviously there will be such differences for every single pass, and this is not meant to detract too much from the pass itself – it has to be done cleanly and safely, and it’s always difficult under such conditions. But data such as this is relevant.

    You can take this blog a step up. Whether it is worth the extra effort financially or not is something I don’t know and you’ll have to think about. I myself would love to be educated about things like these and many other things I’m probably missing. Right now, all you’ve done is tabulated the passes and described them in words – that’s nice.

    1. That simply indicates more drag, and while it implicated that Lewis had more downforce it doesnt make it a less worthy pass – especially considering that at that time of the season the McLaren was struggling to produce downforce, especially in fast bends – where the pass happened.

      1. I know it doesn’t make it a less worthy pass. In fact, I said so myself, maybe you missed it.

        But it’s highly relevant. Just like the tyre temperatures are relevant in Kobayashi vs. Button.

    2. To be honest, Hakka, I could have spent ages meticulously analysing every pass. But this site isn’t just about what I think, some of the best contributions are those that come from then community, like Prisoner Monkeys’ forceful point above, or Tim’s case for the Button-Grosjean pass. So I try to write some articles (not all of them) in a way that will encourage that kind of comment.

      On the other hand, sometimes I prefer to do something a bit more ‘definitive’ – here’s an example of that kind of article: Think the new F1 points system is weird? We’ve seen much stranger than that…

      1. Got it. I’ll reset my expectations then, and look elsewhere for that sort of detail, while continuing to visit here as well. Thanks for clarifying.

      2. I liked it; it allows us all (including Keith) to debate about the topic.

  12. Controversial i know but i voted for Kobayashi’s pass on Nakajima. This was purely because I hate Nakajima (should not be in an f1 car) and was fanastic to see some raw talent sending him off flying :D

    Otherwise I would have voted for Rosberg on Massa in Monaco

  13. It’s all close out there.I voted China: Lewis Hamilton on Kimi Raikkonen because it was a brave move.I think they all deserve to be the winner.

    May I ask why didn’t the move by Webber over Button on the same place Hamilton did wasn’t feature?In the press conference Webber did said that was one of the best move he ever did.

  14. I voted for Rosberg on Massa in Monaco. Webber on Alonso in Spain and Button on Grosjean in Brazil were pretty close.

  15. I don’t understand why Kimi on Fisi is on the list. surely that was pretty easy because of KERS.

  16. I can’t decide which pass to vote for but there are some I would rule out because of the circumstances such Raikkonen on Fisichella at Spa and Kobayashi on Button at Abu Dhabi.

    1. I wouldn’t rule out Kobayashi on Button at Abu Dhabi. I know Button had recently pitted but still, it’s a driver in his second race over taking a newly crowned world champion with over 100 races under his belt.

      A pass in my opinion that got him a drive in 2010.

  17. I really like these kinds of polls but am often slightly sadened that so few notable overtakings happen in a season and that we can remember them all in a short list…

  18. KERS or no KERS, does it matter? You can’t strike a pass from the list simply because the driver had a car more suited to the conditions. In fact I think most of these passes were made in hardware more suited to track conditions at the time, if not all, then certainly all of the leading options right now.

    I myself voted for Kobayashi, simply because his passes were the most entertaining. Very gutsy.

  19. lol at all the kimi fans, it was barely an amazing overtake unlike many other moves this season.

  20. Kimi’s was poor, all he did was press a button

    1. He was right on Fisi’s tail in a slower car already though.

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