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. F1 is racing…. not charity work.. if those overtakes are not earned then Monaco would have been derided of any real racing yesterday no matter to what position the racing was being done…

    Alonso made a mistake, and that is why he was last… he pays for his mistake by having to fight his way through th efield… or else why waste time then… just put the ferrari ahead of all the other team and back in 6th position on the grid then…

  2. At Monaco, do you really lose much time “defending”, I dont think so, its so tight anyway.

    Di Grassi should have brake tested him when he was having his tantrum, that would have been priceless.

    Also, how many times are you allowed to blatantly cut a corner? Massa had four wheels off the track at the chicane out of the tunnel circa lap 20 (?) and no penalty. Hamilton would have passed if Massa had been forced to correct the error, or brake hard enough to stay on track. I think it should be zero tolerance, if there was gravel there he’d be out, its either a chicane or it isnt.

  3. Generally, I’d say that guys do have the right to defend…possibly I even agree with getting rid of the blue flags altogether.

    However, Alonso had already made his pitstop … so while Lucas may have been entitled to defend, I question the wisdom of doing so. I can’t see what benefit there was to di Grassi. I would think it caused him harm, probably losing ground to guys he truly was racing against over the long haul, eg, Timo & Heikki.

  4. Not only the slower cars should make difficult the life for the front runners but also when they are going to be laped.
    This is racing not going for a ride in a beautiful sunday afternoon.
    Of course they should know accidents must be avoided since not runing for position.

  5. The reason was because the Lotuses and hiekki knew that there was no way that they would reach the points. Plus even if they made it hard for Alonso, i htink that he would still finish in the same position.

  6. Prisoner Monkeys
    17th May 2010, 14:27

    Hell, no.

    I’m sorry, but why should the likes of di Grassi moved over for Alonso? Because it was Alonso? If the Ferrari driver was leading the race, then I could understand it. But they shouldn’t just get out of the way because the car behind them is faster. If they have racing position, they have the right to defend it. End of story.

  7. Slower cars are also part of the game.

  8. Drivers should have to fight for the position. Where would you draw the line on the lead car being slower? This is all based on the lead car not taking any more action then that presently allowed to maintain his position. The ability to keep a position itself is a skill of a driver. Just as much a skill if not more than being the fastest on the circuit. If a driver sees where it would benefit him more to allow a faster car to pass to prevent him from losing time to the rest of the field to allow his strategy on the track to work then that is up to him.

  9. Only for the lead lap. And only if there is no chance of the two cars wrecking…

  10. I wondered how the poll would have looked if the driver stuck behind Di Grassi was Hamilton or Button….

    1. People thought it was hilarious when Button was stuck behind Kobayashi.

      Hamilton wouldn’t have gotten stuck :)

  11. Ok, so lets paint a white broken line down the middle of the racing circuit, slow cars to the left, fast cars to the right, lets put indicators on the cars for when they are changing lanes to pass the car in front…………..

    Just ain’t racing

  12. Well… the vote is bias that it coulnd’t be more… youre asking guys who probably havent even raced a normal simulation so they dont have any kind of idea what they are talking about…

    I never said backmakers should just let past faster cars, its only up to their brain activity to decide what is better for their own good.

    Giving it a good fight is one thing, blocking headless is another. You as a driver just have to know when you are in position to fight for position and show aggresion, and when its best for your own race to just let past much faster car.

  13. And all this discussion is of course because Fernando made it to the 6. position… if he didnt, no one would give a damn

    1. Rok, all discussions on this site are of things that are current. It would be boring otherwise and no one would come here if non topical and old news were the norm.

  14. Younger Hamilton
    17th May 2010, 16:47

    Well i think during the Monaco Grand Prix Glock and Trulli should have defended their position from Alonso they werent being lapped and plus it was for position

  15. The question is a bit too extreme, IMO. Always give way vs. never give way. Even if the “always give way” got 11% of the votes, nobody seems to be defending it. Not surprisingly: it would ruin the races, and the line would be almost impossible to draw. Besides, its a lot more fun watching fast drivers knifing their way trough the pack than winning straight from pole.

    My opinion is that slow drivers should have the choice to give way or not as they see fit, as fight an uphill battle is not always to their advantage. And my guess is that many of the “always give way” voters would have chosen less extreme option if given the possibility.

  16. And even with the risk of spoiling the race for defending too much, it’s much more valuable for the driver, that is showing his skills to the world and, mostly, for the bigger teams, and also for the teams his currently driving for, who gets to show his sponsors for much longer then it would in normal circunstances…

    So, they should defend it with their lives!

  17. No! And get rid of those blue flags too!

  18. I’m not going to vote on this one, because there’s no third option, almost deliberatley by the look of it, the answer clearly isn’t black and white.

    A young driver trying to make his name might well benefit from putting on a solid deffensive display, as might his team, like Di Grassi, a driver with a solid an growing reputation like Kovalinen has no need, slow down his race, so instead he forced Alonso to take the dirty line but otherwise carried on with his own race.

    Don’t see that there has to be a black and white answer, the driver in the slower car has no need to make the life of his agressor easy, but otherwise must act in a way that will most benefit himself, whether in terms of his reputation, or his race.

  19. What do you mean by slower car, who decides? What’s the cut-off?

    Senna was driving a much slower car than Mansell at the end of Monaco 1992, should he have moved aside for the faster car?

    Thought not, but if you voted for Bernoldi having to let Coulthard past, then you voted for Senna moving aside for Mansell.
    You can’t arbitrarily pick and choose who has to submit to a rival, that’s not fair, it is one race, same rules front to back, even if you are in an unfashionable car or have an unfamous surname.

    Whether it makes sense for a slower car to compromise their own race-pace defending a faster car, is a different question, but that is the choice of the driver and the team. It is not a matter for the rulebook or, as we all saw yesterday, the hapless and shambolic clowns in race-control to decide.

    1. What do you mean by slower car, who decides? What’s the cut-off

      I think this is an important part of the debate.

      Would Alguersuari have pulled over for Alonso too? At what point are you fast enough for it to be worth defending your position?

  20. Not sure if this is the most pointless discussion for some time! Surely it’s quite simple:

    Of course drivers in slower cars should defend their position. Don’t think anyone here thinks Senna should have let Mansell past in 1992. Doesn’t make any difference if it’s for last or first, the same principle applies.

    The blue flags are an essential part of all motor sport, it would be chaos if backmarkers could just block the leaders. However I do believe it should be at the stewards discretion what is considered blocking rather than the blanket 3 flags rule currently.

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