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

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 said on 17th May 2010, 10:36

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

    • 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.

      • Umar Farooq Khawaja said on 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.

        • 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

          • Sush Meerkat said on 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.

          • sato113 said on 17th May 2010, 14:45

            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…)

          • Mike said on 17th May 2010, 14:52

            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.

          • macahan said on 17th May 2010, 15:33

            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.

          • Mike said on 17th May 2010, 16:09

            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.

    • 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.

    • Cube said on 17th May 2010, 11:24

      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!

      • 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

    • MigueLP said on 17th May 2010, 12:08

      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

      • Dr. Mouse said on 17th May 2010, 15:12

        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?

        • Dr. Mouse said on 17th May 2010, 15:14

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

        • MigueLP said on 18th May 2010, 1:32

          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

      • Lee said on 17th May 2010, 16:13

        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?

        • HG said on 18th May 2010, 4:16

          exactly. where do you draw the line.

          • 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!

          • Lee said on 18th May 2010, 15:55


            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.

          • Lee said on 18th May 2010, 15:56

            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.

    • statix said on 17th May 2010, 13:00

      of course!!! agree!

    • We Want Turbos said on 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.

    • Horacio said on 18th May 2010, 1:56

      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.

  2. Lee said on 17th May 2010, 10:37

    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!

    • BasCB said on 17th May 2010, 10:57

      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.

    • OEL said on 17th May 2010, 18:14

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

  3. Neil said on 17th May 2010, 10:37

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

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th May 2010, 10:39

      I’ve changed it to make it clearer.

      • Mattias said on 17th May 2010, 10:59

        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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th May 2010, 10:42

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

      • 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.

        • DomPrez said on 17th May 2010, 16:57

          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. Darren said on 17th May 2010, 10:45

    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 said on 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. Cube said on 17th May 2010, 10:50


    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. Alex said on 17th May 2010, 10:53

    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. Darren said on 17th May 2010, 10:55

    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 said on 17th May 2010, 11:00

    No. This is F1 racing. Go race!

  11. Damon said on 17th May 2010, 11:01

    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.

    • BasCB said on 17th May 2010, 11:04

      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.

    • Dipak T said on 17th May 2010, 11:06

      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?

      • Damon said on 17th May 2010, 13:22

        “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!!

    • Ade said on 17th May 2010, 11:13

      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.

      • Damon said on 17th May 2010, 13:31

        “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.


    • Damon said on 17th May 2010, 11:15

      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”.

  12. Mark Hitchcock said on 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.

    • Ned Flanders said on 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!

  13. Bren said on 17th May 2010, 11:13

    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. IDR said on 17th May 2010, 11:15

    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. Journeyer said on 17th May 2010, 11:16

    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.

    • Journeyer said on 17th May 2010, 11:17

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

      awful typos, if i ever saw them.

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