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. This is a no brainer, of course the slower car should be allowed to defend. There definitely should not be a rule saying that a backmarker must allow a “front runner” through, even for position.

    Ultimately it is down to the team and driver of the slower car to decide on each occasion. The points against are very valid, but ultimately that is up to the team and driver to decide what is right for them in the circumstances.

    I’d ban blue flags completely as well.

  2. Slower cars should always defend their position from quicker rivals

  3. If a slow HRT was winning in Monaco, it would have the right to hold everyone off to take the victory, so it should be no differant at the back!

  4. If it’s for position, they should be allowed to do whatever they like.

    The Lotuses let Alonso go fairly easily, but di Grassi was up for a scrap – and good luck to him.
    He’s getting his sponsors on telly (as Brundle rather cynically said) and making a name for himself – it was him that went past Schumacher in Melbourne as well wasn’t it.

    When they’re being lapped – that’s another matter. Just don’t do what Trulli did to Karun – classic piece of Monaco lunacy.

  5. Definitely NOT. Why should slower cars make it easy for faster cars to pass? It is already quite easy for faster cars to pass the backmarkers, then you get the media fawning over Alonso’s “amazing carving through the field” hyperbole, when he’s done nothing of note when you consider who he was passing (a bit like the Button fawning in Brazil 2009 when he overtook a bunch of rookies).

    It would stick even more in the craw to see media hyperbole with the knowledge that the cars actually had to let the faster ones by.

    Let them race and fight their way past – they already have the better cars and better salaries – let them bleeding well earn it!

    1. you get the media fawning over Alonso’s “amazing carving through the field” hyperbole

      I haven’t seen any examples of this. Have you got any links?

      1. You might have to look Spanish press.

        1. @Bleu, Spanish driver, Spanish media, so what? I’ve read the BBC articles on Hamilton – British driver, British media & I dare say the Australian media is all the go about Mark Webber at present.

          1. Alas Brake Bias, Webber hardly rates a mention in the news down under. He doesn’t play football, you see. Australian news sources haven’t quite caught up to the fact that there are sports other than footy out there.

      2. I’ve seen Alonso fans say he had an “awesome” race yesterday. Was tempted to link them to your article!

    2. What about when the media fawns all over Hamilton and his stated ability to over take other cars – what is it 32 overtaking moves this season alone? Or is that a different story because he is British? Bit of double standards there me thinks.

  6. Of course the slower car drivers should always defend their position.
    There are reasons why the fast car drivers are at the back, and none of those reasons justifies back markers giving way. Except for maybe one case that I can think of, and that is when faster car is unable to set a good qualifying time because of actions by a third party.

    If you take this reasoning to its logical conclusion, this season everybody should pull over and let the Red Bulls move to the front, until it is proved the other cars have caught up.

  7. Well the obvious answer is no. But when you’re so far off the pace like the back three teams are, it’s down to what the individual driver thinks. It was good to see di Grassi defend his position, but we all knew that Alonso would inevitably get past.

    Hispania got straight out of the way – maybe it will benefit them down the line…

  8. I would like to have seen the result of this poll just when Timo Glock gave way to Lewis Hamilton in the Brazil 2008 GP without the slightest hint of a fight.

    1. Glock was on the wrong tyres for the conditions, he was massively off the pace (as was his team mate who was on the same tyres) and could do nothing to defend. It wasn’t just Hamilton that went past him, Vettel did too.

      If Glock had tried to get in their way he probably would have caused an accident.

      It really is rather boring the way some people have to make everything partisan.

      1. Agree with all Keiths sentiments here.

        It’s not so much that Timo let them past without a fight. Timo’s fight was in keeping his slithering car on the track, while he was doing this the others (on wet tyres) just simply drove around him on the wide track.

      2. I think after Spygate 2007 Ferrari made a deal to win the driver championship but keep the McLaren drivers in the show.
        Hamilton then was robbed of 17 points in the last two races by his team agreeing to keep the show otherwise the season would have been unwatchable.

        THIS IS WHY KIMMI was not happy to have won the world championship this way. But he had to keep silent and THE SHOW had to give him few extra millions to keep him quite.

        In 2008, they told Hamilton they will make sure he wins it to bring interest from the colored community as Tiger Woods does.

        The plan was about to be thawed away by Massa so they ORDERED Glock to give up the place to these two and “adjusted” you know BE has the control room to himself, they adjusted the laps of both Toyotas to be almost identical to each other which WOULD NEVER happens normally as they were on different parts of the track and facing different challenges.
        Too good a lie :) :) :)

        Guys we are watching a show, don’t forget that. The Red Bulls will not be allowed to run away with it because that will take viewing figures away.

        This is why Button was held back last year.
        As a matter of fact this is why the Double Decker Diffuser was allowed to spice up the show.

        And look who’s making appearances in Monaco ;)

        1. *to keep him quiet :)

  9. Of course “slower” cars should defend their position.

    Who decides which cars are “slower” and which are “faster”? It may be fairly obvious when its a Virgin Racing versus a Ferrari, but what if the cars were more evenly matched.

    Where do we draw the line?

  10. I think they should defend their position, but not to the point where it becomes dangerous.

    Kobayashi’s defending in Brazil 2009 was way over the edge. He was driving very slowly and he was taking cars out with his ridiculously aggressive defending.

    I think Di Grassi was slightly being over the edge too. He was locking his wheels on almost every corner and he nearly lost the car in the tunnel. That’s just too dangerous for something as useless as trying to keep that much faster car behind.

    So “yes” I think they should be able to defend their position, but I do think they should be a it more fair than when defending against a more equally paced car.

  11. If he’d just let Alonso through we would not have enjoyed the fantastic site of De Grassi opposite locking through the tunnel at 170mph.

    They will not get much sympathy from the viewing public who want to see a proper overtake not a “bend over-take”
    a la Trulli.

    Id go further and let backmarkers race on the racing line. It used to be a fundamental part of racing, how you deal with back markers. Senna used to be awesome, in fact Lewis is probably closest to him in how he deals with the back of the pack if hes out of position. Be nice to see aggression rewarded. How about a poll on backmarkers Keith?

  12. I also think this depends on the track. If its a track where you can’t overtake (i.e. Monaco) then it seems silly to keep a faster car behind. This is because they are not behind on pure pace, they are behind because the track says no. I’m all in favour of all the cars racing, but if this is purely because of the track, then I can completely see why the top teams would be frustrated

  13. If Alonso doesn’t want to loose time with slower cars then don’t crash in Practice 3.

  14. I don’t think there’s a straight forward yes or no answer, it depends on the situation and what the slower driver has to gain or loose from such an act. The slower car can gain or loose time against other similarly slow rivals depending on if they let the faster driver through. They can also get air time for their sponsors/team by holding back a more distinguished teams car which is also good so it depends on what the priorities are. It’s also nice to see a bit of racing isn’t it ;)

  15. if slower car would have to let faster pass it then lets finish race weekend after Q. :)

  16. Entirely up to them. Having raced in slick shod cars myself, I always let the faster drivers through. If you get fun holding up a championship front runner on a narrow street circuit, then so be it.

  17. It’s racing. The drivers are babied enough with the blue flags as they are without being given positions too. In Monaco, I would make lapped cars yield after one lap in front of a fast car, but having a convention that a slow car should yield position? I thought these guys were meant to be world champions!

  18. I think slower cars should always defend their position.

    During the BBC coverage Martin Brundle and David Coulthard said that for political reasons the slower cars should do the quicker cars a favour and let them through. While it is probably true that the quicker teams may hold grudges if one of their cars are held up I find that pretty sad.

    Eddie Jordan said he would tell his drivers to let quicker cars through because the slower car would loose too much time defending his position. I understand this position more but it could be the best strategy in some cases.

    We saw how much difficulty Alonso had getting past Di Grassi even though he was significantly faster so it just shows how hard it would be for a driver to make an overtake on a more evenly matched car at Monaco.

  19. silly question! Everyone is equal – every driver and every team, so teams which has much faster cars shouldn’t be favoured

  20. Alonso was at the back of the pack due to him loosing control of his car and trashing it. That does not give him the right to expect ‘red carpet’ treatment to the front. What happens when a fast driver gets a penalty and is dropped grid places? Are they to be ushered to the front? It would make a mockery of racing, as all grid penalties would mean nothing. You can guess how I voted.

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