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. George said on 17th May 2010, 17:43

    Voted no, but in the end it’s up to the driver, if he thinks it’s tactically better to let him past then I dont have a problem with that.

  2. rikadyn said on 17th May 2010, 18:06

    Of course the back markers have the right to defend their position against “cars that are faster” than them, otherwise, we should just forget about racing, and end the weekend after qualifying.

  3. Spud said on 17th May 2010, 18:49

    Slower cars should always defend their position if they are racing for position.

    Di Grassi is just a rookie and was trying to prove a point maybe, but he was dead right to make it difficult for Alonso. He made his car as wide as he could without doing anything illegal. We’ll have more of that please.

    Alonso is a twice World champion.

    If he can’t overtake a slower car for position, that’s his tough luck. Let him sit there till he finds the gap. That’s what racing is supposed to be about isn’t it, or am I missing something?

  4. TrueF1Grit said on 17th May 2010, 19:21

    It comes to the appeal then, is it racing? If they had the ability to keep Alonso behind, that could have gained them a 10th place later on, if circumstances changed, or else they could have given their point to Alonso. Defend at all tmes.

  5. Too bad Trulli didn’t take out Webber….this pole would be a lot diff.

  6. Uppili said on 17th May 2010, 20:33

    Why isn’t there a voting choice of “HELL NO” ?!!

  7. Pyvs said on 17th May 2010, 21:11

    Of course, they should’nt. If a driver has to pass another driver, it means there is a quicker and a slower : it could be a Ferrari and a Virgin or a Ferrari and a Mclaren.

  8. Hmm... said on 17th May 2010, 21:43

    race 2 (rs)
    1. Sports
    a. A competition of speed, as in running or riding.
    b. races A series of such competitions held at a specified time on a regular course: a fan of the dog races.
    2. An extended competition in which participants struggle like runners to be the winner: the presidential race.

  9. Don Mateo said on 17th May 2010, 22:06

    If two cars are racing for position then one has no obligation to yield to the other, regardless of any difference in performance. I never agreed with Coulthard about the Bernoldi thing – it may have been really annoying for him, but Bernoldi was just doing what you’re supposed to do in that situation – hang onto your position. The same with Di Grassi.

    If the performance difference is as great as it was with Di Grassi and Alonso, then the faster car is bound to prevail eventually, and if they pull a move on you then there’s no point doing something stupid to try to keep them behind you – that would just be counterproductive. That doesn’t mean to say that you should make it easy for them though.

  10. JPW said on 17th May 2010, 22:08

    Slower cars should NEVER be forced to give way to being overtaken UNLESS being lapped – note that a car lapping another is actually at least ONE WHOLE LAP ahead so the 2 cars in question are not racing directly with each other.

  11. schooner said on 17th May 2010, 22:48

    For me, one of the most entertaining aspects of this race was watching Alonso having to work his way up through the back markers, and good on the TV director for staying focused on that. If they had just rolled over and played dead, his march back up through the field would have been pretty boring.

    • Agreed. We all knew Alonso would get the job done eventually, but wasn’t it fun to watch him having to work for it ! Besides, in sport you are always going to come up against opponents who are either better or poorer than you. Life would be dull if you only competed against someone with the exact same skill level as yourself.

      Plus, isn’t the revenue divvied up, at least in part, based on the amount of points scored by the team over a season?

      For some of the mid to low fielders, the mixed grids are the only opportunity they have to score points, and thus gain a bigger share of the money. Why should they just get out of the way because a bigger name ‘expects’ it. A few others have mentioned too, you don’t see a lot of the backmarkers during the TV coverage, so a duel with a front runner gives them greater exposure & may increase sponsorship opportunities for that team. I imagine BMW-Sauber would be looking for those very sorts of opportunities to present themself & maybe get some sponsorship from it. Not to mention the fact that Di Grassi’s stock went up with every move he blocked Alonso on, and may be a factor in getting him a drive with a bigger team in the future.

      There is simply too much at stake for backmarkers to just yield for the bigger teams.

  12. ming mong said on 18th May 2010, 0:15

    If Alonso didn’t put it in the wall & miss Qualy then he wouldn’t have an issue. Fair game i say.

  13. phil c said on 18th May 2010, 0:23

    Fair game I say, The issues for the slower cars is that Alonso was gonna get them at the pitstop in anycase. They new that. So if i was in one of the slower teams and out of the points as they where on the weekend, there best off letting him pass with out a fuss and concentrate on beating there main oppositon being lotus HRT. They were never a chance of beating alonso, so why comprimise your race defending when you could concentrating on lapping quicker and beating your main rivals.

    Bernoldi was right to defend, but the time he lost defending he potentially could have ended further up the grid. I never rated DC as a driver and no doubt if Alonso, Hamilton or schumi was driving that car that day they would have passed him a lot sooner.

  14. wasiF1 said on 18th May 2010, 2:28

    No way. They are racing for position then why will they? It was fun & probably the most entertaining part of the race when Lucas di Grassi was holding up Alonso & to pass him Alonso was all over the place.

  15. DavidS said on 18th May 2010, 5:57

    No, they don’t.
    The slow driver has every right to defend his position, it’s just a matter of judgment on his part whether he lets the faster driver through. There shouldn’t be an expectation from anyone that backmarkers (excluding those that are lapped of course) should yield.

    It makes for interesting racing on tracks where overtaking is not easy, seeing a frustrated fast driver sitting on the tail of a slower driver weaving about looking for gaps, while the slower driver defends their position is fun to watch.

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