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)

  1. CNSZU said on 17th May 2010, 11:17

    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.

    • graigchq said on 17th May 2010, 12:52

      ..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.

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

        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.

        • CeeVee777 said on 18th May 2010, 16:04

          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).

  2. Robert McKay said on 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.

  3. FelipeBabyStayCool said on 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).

  4. Hotbottoms said on 17th May 2010, 11:26

    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.

    • Xamanara said on 17th May 2010, 13:15

      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

  5. Hamish said on 17th May 2010, 11:27

    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….

    • DGR-F1 said on 17th May 2010, 13:45

      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?

  6. 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.

  7. 007 said on 17th May 2010, 11:35

    Slower cars should always defend their position from quicker rivals

  8. Calum said on 17th May 2010, 11:40

    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!

  9. Bullfrog said on 17th May 2010, 11:41

    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.

  10. S Hughes said on 17th May 2010, 11:43

    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!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th May 2010, 12:16

      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?

      • Bleu said on 17th May 2010, 12:40

        You might have to look Spanish press.

        • Brake Bias said on 17th May 2010, 16:23

          @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.

          • 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.

      • Icthyes said on 17th May 2010, 13:24

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

    • Brake Bias said on 17th May 2010, 16:21

      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.

  11. W-K said on 17th May 2010, 11:59

    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.

  12. James said on 17th May 2010, 12:00

    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…

  13. Massive said on 17th May 2010, 12:22

    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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th May 2010, 12:32

      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.

      • 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.

      • 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 ;)

  14. 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?

  15. Patrickl said on 17th May 2010, 12:38

    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.

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