Should slower cars let the front runners pass when racing for position? (Poll)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Alonso found Trulli much easier to pass than di Grassi
Alonso found Trulli much easier to pass than di Grassi

Lucas di Grassi gave Fernando Alonso plenty to think about when the Ferrari driver came up to pass the Virgin driver early in the Monaco Grand Prix.

But after Alonso got past di Grassi he made light work of passing Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli.

Did the other drivers make life too easy for Alonso? Or should di Grassi have yielded as well?


If two cars are racing for position, why should the car in front yield position even if it does have a much quicker car behind?

Enrique Bernoldi famously refused to let David Coulthard by in the same circumstances at Monaco in 2001 – the McLaren driver stared at the rear wing of Bernoldi’s Arrows for 41 laps.

Di Grassi’s defence from Alonso was impressive while it lasted as the VR-01 clearly had vastly less grip and power than the F10. But Alonso clearly wasn’t impressed, waving his hand at the Virgin driver as they climbed towards Massenet on one lap.


For the tail-enders, holding up a faster car can be costly to their race. Pulling off-line to defend position can make their lap times even slower, spoiling their chances of beating other cars that are roughly as quick as they are.

But how slow does a car need to be before defending its position is pointless? Three seconds per lap? Four?

The Lotuses were less than three seconds off the pace at this point in the race. Jaime Alguersuari was only one second faster, so should he have waved Alonso by too?


Should slower cars defend their position from significantly quicker rivals? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Should slower cars let much faster cars by when racing for position?

  • Yes - Slower cars should always let much quicker cars past (13%)
  • No - Slower cars should always defend their position from quicker rivals (87%)

Total Voters: 2,902

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149 comments on “Should slower cars let the front runners pass when racing for position? (Poll)”

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  1. Sush Meerkat
    17th May 2010, 10:36

    Of course a slower car should defend their position, it wouldn’t be a race if they didn’t.

    1. Seconded. It really is a no-brainer. For position, the guy behind should have to work to get past. Although I think the same should go for when being lapped too.

      1. Umar Farooq Khawaja
        17th May 2010, 10:52

        I agree with that. I do no see why a slower car should yeild position to a faster car while being lapped.

        1. I meant any car, as in get rid of blue flags and make the leaders pass the proper way… with skill and grid and determination. But yeah, it can apply to slower cars too, a-la Eddie Irvine and Ayrton Senna

          1. Sush Meerkat
            17th May 2010, 11:15

            I’m with Ajokay on this one, take away blue flags, the big teams would quickly stop hitting on the smaller teams since no one moves over for rude people.

            It would set a dangerous precedent of people being nice to each other in F1.

          2. if you got rid of blue flags there would be way too much favouritism going on during a race. if ALO comes up to lap ALG, I’m sure he’d be let through easier than if it was HAM trying to lap ALG. (coz ALG is same nationality as ALO and torro rosso has ferrari engines…)

          3. Yes and it would also cause Torro Rosso to let the Ferrari’s through easier because Ferrari supplies there Engines.

            But that’s taking an equally extreme view.

            And I don’t think It will stop Ferrari from hitting on the little teams, in fact I’d expect it to happen more.

          4. on the same coin you would think Alg and Bue would let Vet and Web past after all team have very similar ownership… I would think they might make it a bit harder on Alo to pass IF it would be advantage for RBR. BUT that is a lot of hypotheticals because that would mean that they would need to know where everyone else is on track and the pit would have to basically tell them what they should do and all a sudden you have team orders so to speak.
            I don’t see that happen really with those teams. But it’s a possibility.
            However if you look at Indy you can see what can happen with no blue flags. Last race at Kansas Speedway. Danica blocked a driver for lap after lap and she had a poorly setup car and had to lift in the corner. She constantly blocked expertly until she slipped up a little and then she “gave up” and more cars easily made past her. She was a good 0.5sec of the pace (on a ~25sec lap that is a lot). On a oval on a clean lap it’s 100% throttle for the entire lap so when a driver have to lift they are off the pace.
            Good bad or indifferent? I feel pretty bad BUT that doesn’t mean I am for the blue flags as is. Keep the blue flags but relax the rules don’t force the driver to give away ASAP as it is today. Give them at least a lap before they need to give away. Say the same blue flagger shouldn’t have to blue flag the same back runner car to let the faster car behind past.
            This way if the driver is fighting for position he can choose when to let the front runner past on the circuit that works best.

          5. That’s a thought, how bout make it so they have one lap from the time they get a blue flag to give up the place, That way, there’s reason for the faster driver to want to have a stab, yet it won’t running the leaders race entirely if he can’t get past…. might be a good middle step.

    2. should have added an option of
      drivers and teams own choice for strategy, and safety
      or something apart from back and white..
      Some drivers may let 1 drive past because of a number of reasons and not anther driver for other reasons…

      Either way it shouldn’t be mandatory thats a complete joke, and if it was…where does the interpretation end? RBR over Mclaren on some tracks or occasions?
      Renault to move over for Ferrari?
      and does defensive driving become evil over talent, and does that hypothetical mandatory rule also include a car with worn tyres that is slower than the car behind on newer rubber?????
      ETC on and on.

    3. Of course. Plus, why should they move over if it was Alonso’s own mistake that put him behind the slow cars. It’s all part of the penalty for making a mistake at Monaco!

      1. Di Grassi probably thought this is the most fun he is going to have all year! So why not make the most of getting to race at Monaco for position with a double world champion! :P

        1. why did alonso get so stroppy afterwards about it?!

    4. on monaco or even singapore the bottom 3 teams should yield cause they are far too slow ridiculous they are worse than minardi and x3

      1. But they are still racing. Sorry mate, but it is up to the “better” driver in the faster car to probe his metal and overtake.

        If not, where do you draw the line? If someone’s having car trouble on the last lap, should he move over and let someone through, or defend his position and RACE?

        Forget “they are too slow” comments, this is racing. If not, why not replace it all with each driver doing a lap and the fastest wins?

        1. sorry, spelling mistake makes that sound like a weird sexual activity. Of course I meant “prove” his metal, not probe

        2. im not british i dont care about spelling mistakes i like to see overtaking but it was a fact that all cars but di grassi yield and on a normal track overtaking a lotus or virgin or hrt is as fast as overtaking on blue flags

      2. So say Webber made a small error during qualification and got 2nd on the grid and Alonso took pole. Should Alonso move out of the way to let Webber through as he is in a clearly faster car?

        Alonso and the back markers were racing for position and if they kept him there for the whole race and other in front retired they could have picked up points. Why on earth should they let him through?

        1. exactly. where do you draw the line.

          1. You draw the line at the last few races when you are not fighting for the championship AND you are not losing points that would change your or your team standing in the championship.
            :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
            Schumy suffered to Hill in the last race in Japan 1998 exactly becuase Hill wanted revenge and nothing to do with his points!

          2. @heliwave

            In which case lets just do away with the race and finish the GP after Qualifying 3. That way pretty much guarantee the fastest driver around the track wins without any of that horrible racing stuff getting in the way.

          3. In fact thinking about it why not just use the simulator data to see who is likely to be fastest and then the cars do not even have to turn up at all.

    5. of course!!! agree!

    6. We Want Turbos
      18th May 2010, 1:40

      There should be no rule either way, although I can understand why drivers move out of the way especially established ones, as they may be taken out of the race by a frustrated driver. However its’s a great way as a young driver to get noticed, If Di Grassi had Glock’s car I don’t think Alonso would have got past and everyone would be saying he’ll replace Massa next year.

    7. I think that Sush said everything. I have to say that I felt infuriated when I saw the image on TV of Alonso complaining because DiGrassi didn’t let him pass… Absolutely ridiculous. On top of that, as usual, Alonso made demeaning comments about DiGrassi, just because the guy was fighting like a lion to keep a slower car in front of Alonso.
      As Sush said, it wouldn’t be a race is everyone just moves out of the track.

      1. More or less as Lewis did on fisichella Bahrein 2008………..

        1. As far as I am aware Hamilton did not question Fisichellas right to defend his position.

  2. Thought Di Grassi’s defence was excellent yesterday, and Alonso getting a bit riled behind him, waving his hand and sliding about behind him was fun to watch!

    1. I am also for the drivers battling not to give up position, wherever they are.
      The point is DiGrassi probably had nothing to lose.
      Trulli, Timo and Heikki clearly rather let him past then risk their races (pace-wise as well as not feeling good having a fuming Alonso behind asking for an accident). But that should be up to the driver in question.

    2. Di Grassi did a superb job, trying to keep Alonso behind despite oversteering in the tunnel!

  3. Keith, the poll question does not match the title of the article or its content. I almost clicked the wrong option!

    1. I’ve changed it to make it clearer.

      1. It’s still kinda weird…

        Below the ‘vote’ subtitle it says

        “Should slower cars defend their position from significantly quicker rivals?”

        and then it suddenly gets changed to

        “Should slower cars let much faster cars by when racing for position?”

        quite contradictory… :) I almost clicked the wrong one too!

  4. It depends on how the rest of the race is unfolding.

    Apart from the Hispanias, who are usually in a race of their own anyway, di Grassi was the last runner apart from Alonso. It made sense for him to defend against Alonso because he wasn’t going to lose so much time doing it that it might cost him a position later in the race.

    Trulli and Glock were probably thinking about racing each other, and knew that time lost defending against Alonso could have proved critical in a later part of the race. So they let him by and got on with their own race.

    1. Thing is, di Grassi didn’t lose much time defending from Alonso – he was still keeping up with Trulli.

      1. That’s interesting. I imagine that the effect is less pronounced at Monaco since there are fewer passing places and the track is narrower, so less effort is needed to defend. But at other places it could mean the difference between gaining a position and losing one.

        1. ultimatly its up to the team and driver them, after a lap or two or three of fending off a faster car, if your loosing ground to a comparable car ahead, it may be wise to let him through to fight the next car and hopefully take an opportunistic chance to follow him through. Wishful thinking but its part f strategy more so then anything.

  5. I also enjoyed Di Grassi defending his position yesterday. If racing for position of course you wouldn’t let anyone through regardless of the speed advantage-sure people are saying it was pointless for de Grassi to defend but if Alonso went off trying to get past it would have benefited him so I think applying pressure to a faster driver behind can be beneficial, its called racing.

  6. Ned Flanders
    17th May 2010, 10:45

    Maybe Lucas di Grassi would have lost less time by simply letting Alonso through- but I hate it when drivers play the percentage game. Di Grassi went up in my estimation yesterday; Jarno Trulli went down.

    Similarily, I have a lot of respect for the way Lewis Hamilton keeps on pushing no matter how matter what. Sometimes he looks like a champ (eg Silverstone 2008, winning by a minute), other times he looks like a chump (Monza 2009, crashing on the last lap). But, whether you like him or not, you’ve got to respect him for it.

    OK, so I’ve gone a bit off topic. My point is- every driver should fight for his position all of the time, whether that position is first or last, whether the driver he is defending from is his best mate, whether the driver is a championship contender etc etc

  7. No!

    I know it may be good manners to get out of their way but what would be the point in being there at all if you had to give everything over and let the guy past.

    It was Alonso’s fault he had to start from the pit lane & therefore he is to blame for having to fight at the back.

    The slow guys did nothing wrong, they didn’t crash, they qualified where they always do. It was Alonso’s cock up so he paid for it.

  8. Ofcourse they should defend there position! Race positions matter for the championship (See how webber is in front of vettel because of his two wins). Plus it is very funny to watch a much slower car hold up a fast car. I can still remember that race with Enrique Bernoldi and David Coulthard.

  9. Thats 2 valid points by Ned and Cube, actions and skill by De Grassi gets noticed and the reason Alonso was at the rear was a result of his own error in qualifying.

  10. Vincent1972
    17th May 2010, 11:00

    No. This is F1 racing. Go race!

  11. The driver has to do everything he can to drive the fastest race he can. Period.
    If holding up a faster car behind you, which requires you to constantly compromise your racing line, makes you lap slower than you would normaly do – then what’s the point of blocking him??

    You cannot force a driver to do something only to serve the entertainment of the fans. This is not real racing then, it’s fake racing.

    You can block the faster car as much as you want to, but if this results in you making slower lap times and exploting your brakes and tyres more than you can afford – then the decision to let him past is the most logical thing in the world.

    1. I think you are right here, that is why i voted NO.
      Let the guy in front decide, if he feels it makes sense to fight do it, when he wants to concentrate on his own race strategy and speed, let the car by.

    2. What if this occured at the end of the race, and di Grassi found himself in 10th place? Should he give his place up to Alonso then?

      1. “What if this occured at the end of the race, and di Grassi found himself in 10th place?”
        – Is what I’ve said so confusing that you can’t think of an answer yourself or what?!?

        If it occured at the end of the race then OBVIOUSLY he would only lose by letting him pass, so the only freaking logical thing to do what be to block the hell out of Alonso and fight for his position!!

    3. What!? The point is to defend your track position!

      What is the point to let faster car overtake you??? what is the point to go quicker/finish the race sooner when you actually lose track position? As if that way the slower cars had a better chance to overtake the car in front of him?

      To drive the fastest race he can, that is rally BTW.

      1. “What is the point to let faster car overtake you???”
        – The point is that if blocking the faster car makes you go slower you are losing time that eventually may cost you positions.

        You gotta see the big picture, kid!

        Imagine you are fighting off Alonso, losing 1sec. per lap by doing so, and after 15 laps of such battling you have lost 15 seconds on the track.
        Then another round of pitstops comes up. You go to the pits, leave the pits – and the 3 cars that were behind you have now gone ahead of you, because you had “fought for position” against Alonso (!!!).
        And now instead of finishing the race in the 8th place and scoring points, you finish the race in 11th place and get nothing.


        1. well, then it is up to the driver to use his head, you know, personal judgement.

    4. And the poll is bad, because it’s biased. The third poll option should be: “The driver is entitled to and should do WHATEVER IT TAKES to make his race faster and score the highest possible position”.

      1. FelipeBabyStayCool
        17th May 2010, 11:29

        Yep, I agree. I didn’t vote for that reason (well whatever it takes sounds maybe too strong. Shotguns shouldn’t be allowed ;))

        1. “Shotguns shouldn’t be allowed ;)”

          Why not? :P

      2. I don’t see why you think the poll is biased. It’s a pretty clear either/or option.

  12. Mark Hitchcock
    17th May 2010, 11:10

    I expect Virgin appreciated the tv time they got when Di Grassi held up Alonso.
    So that’s another argument for defending

    They’re all racing drivers and if they have any pride or passion then they should be fighting for every position.

    1. Ned Flanders
      17th May 2010, 11:32

      That advertsing really grabs you attention too. Straight after the race I went out and subscribed to Virgin Media an bought a Marussia sports car, all off the back of di Grassi’s TV time!

      1. I bought a lotus *whoops*

  13. i think as an alonso fan, di grassi did very well, perhaps a little desperate but i much prefer that to the way everyone let hamilton through in brazil 07 and how they used to for michael in years gone by. which used to be so annoying. i remember once at indy jenson letting michael through and that was for the lead! ok Button had a much slower BAR(in 03 i think) car but he was in the lead that day.

    so overall id praise di grassi. tho it was a little frustrating at the time as an alonso fan. but he did exactly the right thing and got his team and himself some exposure which they need cos iMO they have been the worse of the new teams considering the backing and time they had compared to the other 2.

  14. Drivers has always to racing, that’s why they are paid for.

    Alonso complained because Di Grasi was moving to one side to another, but I’m afraid is just a consequence of Alonso’s own anxiety to not loosing much time.

    At the end, he has cried a little bit, but not so much!!!

  15. When I say “Enrique Bernoldi”, what comes to mind? His vigorous defense against DC won him many admirers that say. But we also forget that he got beat by his Arrows teammate Jos Verstappen simply because his defense slowed him down as Jos pulled away.

    So should they race? Yes, but only to a certain extent. Drivers have to make sure that their defense, good as it may look on TV, does not end up scuppering their own race.

    1. *against DC in Monaco 2001 won him many admirers that day.

      awful typos, if i ever saw them.

  16. I can understand backmarkers who will try to put up a fight at a normal circuit – because it’s a relatively safe environment. But it is not advisable at a street circuit. There is a big risk of both cars receiving damage during an overtaking pass, which is particularly bad for the backmarker team, who don’t want to waste their limited resources to repair or replace the chassis.

    1. ..which brings us to the taboo elephant in the room situation..

      Isn’t it time we brought up the obvious answer… stop racing super-wide 200MPH cars around this circuit.. it’s not safe and it’s not racing.. if a faster can’t overtake safely, then what real “racing” is actually taking place at all???

      DOn’t get me wrong, i love watching the cars thunder round monaco as much as the next guy.. but if we don’t accept the simple facts.. that monaco is NOT fit for F1 – then we’ll keep trying to “fix” the sport at this circuit, when it’s the circuit’s own characteristics that create the problems.

      1. Don’t go there man, just don’t. Monaco is as much F1 as F1 is Monaco. Now, keep in mind if they replace Monaco it will probably be another Tilkedrome, do you want that?

        Did anyone notice that the stands were full, the buildings were full, and I swear I saw a guy on a roof. Anyway…. Remember China? there was a whole stand converted to a giant advertisement! A whole stand!

        Maybe Monaco isn’t fit for F1 cars, but it never produces a race not worth watching.

        1. You must have been watching a different race to me. There were a lot of empty sets in the stands on the TV shots I saw (BBC).

  17. Robert McKay
    17th May 2010, 11:23

    Di Grassi’s defence from Alonso and Alonso’s subsequent passes on the other slower cars were pretty much the most interesting bits of the race, a couple of crashes and Schumi’s final corner excepted.

    Taking those battles away would have not left much actual interesting racing in that Grand Prix.

    I can understand why the slower guy might say “ok, I won’t lose time overly defending against him, he’s much quicker”. But if you’re not actually losing that much time, then keep defending.

    Besides, it’s important for the integrity of the race.

  18. FelipeBabyStayCool
    17th May 2010, 11:25

    Should they? Well, it’s up to them, I guess. But of course it would be totally unacceptable to FORCE them to yield, as it happens when lapping.
    Fact is, the backmarkers are in a different race than the top contenders. When they happen to have a much faster and aggresive driver behind (as it has been pointed out in another thread), they are likely to get either overtaken or involved in a crash, unless they are nearing the end of the race and can hope to hold their position up to the finish line (which was not the case yesterday).
    So why bother to hold up a faster driver, lose time and risk a crash? Well, it’s the sportsmanlike thing to do, you earn kudos, and probably get extra TV coverage. But there are good reasons to yield also. And fans of course see it differently if they support or hate the driver behind (I was not exactly happy at Timo yielding in the last corner of Interlagos 2008).

    About yesterday in particular, well I wouldn’t say that Timo made it easy for Fernando (as Jarno certainly did, but I’m not sure about Heikki). Fernando got him in the outside of the chicane when Timo was trying to block the inside, and except for crashing into him there’s little he could do. Lucas made a mightily brave defence yesterday but maybe he weaved a wee bit too much. Along with Mark, Robert and Fernando, I’d pick Lucas for driver of the day (no, I wouldnt pick MSC. Rules are rules, even if they are pointless).

  19. Slow cars should indeed defend their position. Did you note how much screen time di Grassi (and Virgin) got while defending his position against Alonso?

    It doesn’t really matter whether you are 16th or 17th in the race, but the attention you get for several laps for succesfully defending your position against Alonso is priceless.

    1. Right on! The only one who loses from all this, is Alonso. His rivals win, slower drivers and teams win, spectators win.

      Back to the basics of racing I say! I’m not just interested in gaps and lap times and points. What intrests me the most is the duel, the fight, the rivalry between two cars. The competition I can observe directly and not as much the indirect battle between drivers for points, fastest laps etc.

      A good show with action means it’s more thrilling to watch, which means there will me more viewers, which helps the sport to get stronger.

      Racing is all about the X factor and less about fixed things. More man on man action I say :D

  20. I think if that was the case it would just get stupid, as many things do in F1. Up until how far up the grid would a car have to yield to a “faster” car? If you can’t pass a car slower than you well thats your fault, thats the penalty for a lacklustre qualifying. But then I suppose that comes back to the fundamental problem with F1 these days….

    1. Well, if you are going to allow the faster cars to automatically overtake anything going slower than them (once you have defined ‘faster’), you might as well go all the way and have two separate races, one for the slow cars and one for the fast cars.
      Oh dear, that would mean smaller grids (with the bigger one being full of ‘slow’ cars?)
      And if you really want to push this point, why did nobody complain at ‘slow’ Schuey holding up most of the other ‘faster’ cars in Spain?

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