By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Australian Daniel Ricciardo replaced Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen as Formula One’s pass master in 2017 but the season saw half the number of overtaking moves following the introduction of faster and wider cars.
According to figures released by tyre supplier Pirelli on Tuesday, there were a total of 435 overtakes over the 20 races. In 2016, when there were 21 rounds, the sport racked up 866 moves.
That worked out at an average of 21.8 per race in 2017, compared to 41.2 last year.
Azerbaijan Grand Prix winner Ricciardo made 43 overtakes, including 13 at Silverstone where he went from 19th on the British GP starting grid to finish fifth.
Verstappen, who topped last year’s Pirelli statistics with 78 passes in a season that also brought him a first victory, managed only 22 this time around.
On the plus side, the 20-year-old Dutch driver tied with Mercedes’ four times world champion Lewis Hamilton as the drivers who were overtaken least (twice in total).
The likely lack of overtaking had been flagged up before the season as a consequence of Formula One’s new-look cars which were faster through corners but harder to get past on slower circuits like Monaco.
The worst race for passing was the Russian Grand Prix, with just one overtake registered, while the liveliest was Azerbaijan’s chaotic race with 42.
Red Bull were the team with the most overtakes and, along with championship runners-up Ferrari, the ones who were passed the least.
An overtaking maneuver was deemed to be one that occurred during a complete fast lap, but not the first of any race. Any position changes due to major mechanical problems or drivers being lapped were not included.
Pirelli said pole position in 2017 was on average 2.450 seconds faster than in 2016, and the fastest race lap was on average 2.968 seconds quicker.
The highest speed recorded was 362.4 kph by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in Mexico.
Next season will see an even faster tyre introduced, with softer compounds generally.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)