Speeds up but overtakes down: Pirelli analyses the F1 2017 season
Posted By:   |  06 Dec 2017   |  7:26 am GMT  |  209 comments

Formula 1’s introduction of wider, faster cars for the 2017 season may have smashed numerous lap records across the calendar, but on-track overtaking was slashed by almost half of last year’s total according to figures released by Pirelli.

Discarding overtakes from the first lap and those as a result of mechanical issues, Pirelli recorded 435 overtakes across the 2017 season, compared to the 866 recorded last year.

This is the lowest number of overtakes recorded since DRS was introduced in 2011.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was the biggest contributor to the total, making 43 passing moves over the season – although this is perhaps skewed by engine penalty-enforced recovery drives through the pack. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix held the largest number of overtakes; 42 of them took place on the streets of Baku, while the spectators at Sochi bore witness to just one pass over the whole race.

Lance Stroll made up the most positions on the opening lap, taking 36 positions from other drivers off the line as he often sought to recover from disappointing qualifying efforts.

The fastest race of the year was recorded at Monza, as victor Lewis Hamilton took advantage of an uninterrupted race to set an average speed of 243.626 kph, the fastest Italian Grand Prix seen since 2006.

Michael Schumacher took 1h 14m 51.975 to win that year’s race at Monza, over 40 seconds faster than Hamilton’s victory time this year.

Hamilton also led the highest number of laps this year en route to the title, completing 527 racing tours at the front of the pack – almost half of the total 1196 laps recorded over the 2017 season.

Pirelli also released figures into the total distances covered by each of their compounds, suggesting that the Italian company’s constructions were conservative for the new formula as the three softest compounds covered by far the most distance.

Combined, the supersoft and ultrasoft compounds experienced over 200,000km of total distance, 10 times the amount of running on both hard and medium tyres. In total, Pirelli covered 329,170km of ground across race weekends and tests.

Releasing a range of softer tyres for next year, Pirelli Head of Car Racing Mario Isola expects any lap records set this year to tumble even further in 2018.

“From a record-breaking season, we have collected some record-breaking numbers,” he said.

“Over the course of this year, pole position was on average 2.450 seconds faster than in 2016, and the fastest race lap was on average 2.968 seconds quicker than last year.

“Now we look forward to next season, with an even faster tyre introduced to the 2018 range and with every compound going a step softer, which should help contribute to even more speed and spectacle in the future.”

The softer tyres are also expected to result in two-stop races, a rarity in 2017 as teams were able to unlock plenty of long-distance running even on the softest of compounds.

Officially, there were an average of 26.7 pit stops per race, or 1.5 per driver – Baku once again experiencing the largest figure, an oft-interrupted grand prix creating 41 pit stops.

“Considering all the range is one step softer, plus we have the hyper-soft, we now have the option to go soft enough to target two stops,” said Isola.

“I believe that three stops is a bit too much; it can be a bit confusing to have too many stops. We will try to make the selection of having two stops or one of the fastest strategies a two-stop.

“There is another advantage – with more compounds and a softer step, you give the teams the possibility to design the car that is more gentle on the tyres, so you can push the tyre towards the softer side.

“This is an additional variable that is up to the teams, and we give to everybody the same opportunity.”

Having conducted all of its running in preparation for 2017 with “test mules”, Pirelli now has a season’s data to develop its constructions and understand the demands of the current generation of cars.

Pirelli also released a number of its own hospitality-specific figures, recording 80kg of prosciutto eaten by staff and guests. With statistics like this, someone is certainly bringing home the bacon.

What do you make of Pirelli’s findings? Leave your comments in the section below

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Hi James,

my name is Zvonimir Martincevic, and I am MME from Zagreb, Croatia.

I have worked for Michelin for 9 years, and drove 4 times Dakar rally (the african one).

I work as a Formula 1 commentator for Croatian cable television Arena Sport.

Here You’ll find my analysis of 2017 season:

1) The analysis of the pit stop strategy and selection of tyres in the F1 season in 2017 https://www.f1puls.com/24011/2017-f1-pit-stop-strategy-and-selection-of-tyres-part-1/


2) The analysis of impact of Free practices on 2017 F1 GP weekend results https://www.f1puls.com/23605/the-analysis-of-impact-of-free-practices-on-2017-f1-gp-weekend-results/

I would like to get in contact with You so I can show You my type of F1 analysis.


Zvonimir Martincevic, MME

Zagreb, Croatia

Gmail: zvonimir.martincevic@gmail.com


I know the lap times were quicker this year because the screen said so. personally i do not care if the lap times are 3 seconds slower but i see better racing, more overtakes, more wheel to wheel combat !!!


hamilton has certainly made it clear where his priorities lie this season. he does what he likes, what makes him happy and don’t give a monies about anyone. the fia made a mockery of him during the season and didn’t have him present in their hall of fame inauguratiob. it was disgraceful how they handled that baku saga. todt enjoyed the company of of his favourite drivers on a great f1 night.
todt will certainly remember respect hamilton a lot more next season.


Your comments has no relevance to the article. Spam.


and yours?
still owning ip?


FIA fixed the penalties problem in F1.

If you take more than 15 place hit it’s automatically to the back, and organized in order in which the penalties were taken. No more 35 place or 55 place penalties, because those were the real problem. The most is 15 now…which is back of the grid by default.

Well…that’s that. They’ve finally fixed this dreaded penalties problem with these PU usage rules.

Next time you walk your dog and he drops a turd, spray some fabreeze on it right away while it’s still steaming and give it a sniff. See….it’s really a fresh spring flower!


Imagine refueling with these cars and tyres? I say, bring back refueling!


those tyres kill the show and nobody can see it except very fiew and the drivers


lando norris sums up my thought on pirelli tyres in autosport interview : “The tyre is one of the biggest things – with the Hankooks you could push 99% of the race and [with] the Pirellis you can push for a couple of laps and then you need to start saving.


The kid’s not wrong. Webber, when he first went to LMPI said exactly the same only they used Michelin.


f1 excitement shouldn’t be about the number of overtakes per race. it should be about drivers being able to overtake when they are behind a slower car nor matter how small their speed differential.


Same question as others have asked — why are postings not showing up, it’s been 2 days now ?


I checked the site and was informed that the server was down because one posters multi indentities was the final straw that broke the ‘Camels’ back’.


I don’t know why anyone is surprised by this. Going to wider cars with more aero bits and big tyres takes us back to pre 2009 style cars i.e. a time where there wasn’t much overtaking in F1. In 2009 we went to simpler aero and slick tyres, then DRS came along in 2011, throughout this period we had a lot of overtaking in F1 so it was bound to reduce changing back to the way things were before it.

It is so clear that they need to tidy up the aero. It is so hypocritical for the teams to harp on about road relevance with the engines and spit out the dummy when people mention N/A V12s but then go and squander squillions on honing wing shapes, how road relevant is an F1 barge board I hear you ask?

Ground effects were rightly banned in the 80s when it was getting silly, the cars were starting to be capable of cornering at warp speed but they were still essentially petrol bombs made of tin foil. Now it is different. Why is there still the enshrined doctrine that “thou floor shalt be flat”?

Cut off all the silly bits, front wing, back wing no other appendages. Oh and cut off the silly halo while were at it. No one, if they are being honest and not just toeing the party line wants it, it looks silly and provides a dubious level of protection.


I wonder if Hasegawa is moving out of F1 project partially because he spilled a little bit too much into about engine modes and automation in F1?


@ Sebee….What’s the F1 equivalent of the the old maxim…’loose lips sink ships’ hahaha “talk data sink later’…sorry.


I don’t think anyone but he revealed as much about what these engine modes do. He gave us a sneak peek into how F1 hot dogs are made and maybe paid the price.


We knew this was going to be the case though, right? Those tall, skinny rear wings looked ungainly, but they made the cars that bit less unsettled running in dirty air.


We need to look on the bright side. Soon virtual reality will be a big part of F1 and there will be no issues about passing due to aero limitations , no coasting due to the need to save fuel. No nursing engines to avoid grid penalties. It will be just flat out racing no holds bard.


The F1 rule makers just seem to get it. Fans don’t really care that cars are now quicker than ever, what excites them is close racing with plenty of overtaking. The fact that the regulations actively discourage this is just madness.

I for one would much rather see slower cars but closer racing where cars can follow closely so have a realistic chance of overtaking.

As for the new engine penalties and only 3 engines all season, there’s now a strong possibility that the drivers title will be decided on who has least penalties rather than ability. Again, madness and not wat the fans want.

Don’t even get me started on the halo…….


I have been watching F1 since the turn of the millennium and have loved following this sport both for the technical (I am an engineer) and sporting side. In the last few years I have had a hard time committing anytime to it because the sporting aspect of it seems greatly diminished and the ability of the drivers is difficult to differentiate. Formula 1 has become an engineering spectacle and nothing has highlighted this more than the change in regulations that make the cars go faster, but without the ability to provide the spectacle of sport.

I think as a fan of the sport “good” racing is seeing two (or more) cars racing closely with the ability to attack and defend over a sustained number of laps. Overtaking is a poor metric of this in an absolute sense, but is helpful. In order for there to be more spectacle in the racing, three things would need to happen: The lap time delta needs to be reduced to around 0.5 seconds, the performance differential of the cars needs to be reduced and the ability for cars to be faster in different areas of the circuit needs to be investigated.

What seems curious to me is that all of the rule changes thus far to make the spectacle better are all trying to force the engineers to make a product they think will work, instead of encouraging them. At the moment, the best cars are designed, primarily, to get from start to finish as fast as possible. What if we created a formula where overtaking was a critical component of being able to score world championship points? And in doing so the engineers from the teams are working on a way towards that goal?

One idea to achieve this would be to have a short sprint race on Saturday that is run in the reverse order of the finishing position from the last race and the result of this would set the grid for the Sunday race. This would allow better content on the Saturday (at the cost of a classic qualifying format) and encourage overtaking, thus forcing the engineers to make cars that can overtake.

Obviously in order for this to be successful there are some design rules that need to change, but fundamentally the philosophy of working against the engineers has consistently been a failure. Let’s work with them!


@Danny W…nice to see some lateral thinking. Well done.


And I see now in the latest Racecar Engineering a feature on the new Dallara F2 car. As relevant here, author Sam Collins quotes F2 Technical Director, Didier Perrin, as follows:

“The cars must be able to follow each other and race, that is the key aim with the aerodynamics. In an open championship the aerodynamics are developed to produce the most efficient package possible in terms of performance, but in a one make series the emphasis must be in allowing the cars to follow.”

That right there lays it bare. As a racing spectacle, as a means for drivers to display their skills (and for fans to see and admire that display), F1 – the only “open formula” left; the so-called “pinnacle of motor racing” – is an emperor with no clothes. In contrast, a “lesser” series has cars specifically designed to “be able to follow each other and race.”

DannyW is absolutely right. F1 at this point has become an engineering spectacle.

Racing (more often, the illusion thereof created by pit strategies and DRS) is an occasional byproduct of F1’s rules. Racing, it seems, only matters to the FIA on the way to the pinnacle, not once you get there.


@ Rudy Pyatt…But surely the term ‘open Formula’ is a tautology in many ways. A Formula is a prescriptive outline laid down in rather precise terms. What is needed is, IMO. a form of ‘formula libre’ where by the basic elements are prescribed with the freedom to innovate towards an achievement of the same. That would be the very best solution whereby the creative elements of F1 would reap the rewards of excellence for individuality.


Right! Something like this might work for example:



Agreed! A possible variation on the theme: If I recall correctly, your typical USAC race sets the pole (maybe the first two rows; I’ll look it up) through single car at a time qualifying. The rest of the field is set via finishing position in qualifying races. NASCAR does something similar at the Daytona 500. Pole position is set in single car qualifying, the rest of the 43 car field set by finishing order in a pair 125 mike qualifiers.

You could use the Daytona/USAC approach. Every driver gets, say, a warm up lap and two qualifying laps alone on the track, taking the fastest of those two as a shot at the pole.

Don’t set fast time of the day? Lineup two heats, grid positions in each by order fastest to slowest of their two-lap pole efforts, with each heat going, say, five (maybe 10?) laps. Where you finish in each heat sets your grid position in Sunday’s race.

You could also tweek this by mandating parc ferme for the pole winner: The tires you qualify on, you start the race on. The engine mode you qualify with, you use in the final race. This gives an opportunity for strategic variation and outright gamesmanship: Want to avoid putting extra mileage on the car and powertrain? Avoid the heats by taking pole. But maybe you need to turn up the wick so much for pole, and use such soft tires too, that you comprise your race settings. Decisions, decisions…

This would, hopefully, build-in incentive to design cars for racing efficiency over laptime efficiency.


Wow, interesting stats but not surprising.

When the most exciting thing in the race is Skysports replaying tyres locking up, you know that the sport is heading in the wrong direction. Don’t know if I can stand another year of watching and waiting for something exciting to happen.


To me, exciting overtaking is when we see people diving down the inside or going around the outside. Straightline (DRS assisted) is not exciting overtaking (to me anyway).

So, simplest way to increase exciting overtaking is to decrease overall brake effectiveness. I spose this would be either by reducing size of discs/whatever or by going back to steel.

That can then significantly increase the length of the braking (overtaking) zone.
That then makes it much more possible for someone to dive down the inside.




Not in Abu Dhabi you won’t!!!!


I’m actually totally OK with less overtaking – as long as it isn’t none! People often derided the Trulli trains when they happened, but you spent lap after lap wondering “will he, won’t he?” – and typically when one of them was brave enough the others would follow.

DRS drive by’s aren’t really my thing – sure it gets them closer, but the length and positioning of the DRS areas make it too easy for the faster cars. Maybe they could consider adding DRS zones to the “almost” overtaking spots instead, as opposed to the obvious spots?


To be honest I didn’t even notice that there were fewer overtakes this year. And even if there were, that didn’t make F1 any worse this year than it has been over the last 3 or 4 years. In fact, I would argue that it was actually better for the majority of the year as Mecedes weren’t as dominant and Ferrari seemed to be giving Mercedes a hard time.

I think it’s the drama of close competition that is missing from F1, not hundreds of easy DRS or tyre wear-assisted overtakes per race.


Lewis makes some interesting points in this interview that will add further to the discussion.



Aero. Aero. Aero.

Big shocker. They increased aero and passing went down. Nobody could have seen that coming.


It’s a meaningless statistic since DRS got introduced.

F1 failed on the day it introduced Push to Pass buttons. There is nothing less Formula One than that disastrous idea.


Why is that exactly. DRS on the straights and push to pass in the turns would help overtaking. If implementation were correct I don’t see why a little extra horsepower on demand, if you can get within 1 second, wouldn’t help because as it is now you have to be 1 1/2 seconds a lap faster than the guy in front of you to be able to pass at all unless there is a very very long straight that you can get a tow from.

With enclosed cars you could side draft to take air off of the guy in front of you so that you might actually get around even if you are 1/2 second per lap quicker.


The rule changes have been an exercise in insanity, a definition of which is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. If it wasn’t so frustrating as a fan, it would be a comedy. The trouble is, it’s a recurring tragedy.


Discarding overtakes from the first lap and those as a result of mechanical issues, Pirelli recorded 435 overtakes across the 2017 season, compared to the 866 recorded last year.

This is the lowest number of overtakes recorded since DRS was introduced in 2011.


What I find damning about this statement is that most of the top engineering teams in Formula One were talking about this very problem in 2016 and the FIA did NOTHING to address the issue.

I will also add, with only 3 engines allocated for the season, next year, that number is going to fall even further, as protecting power unit life will play a very big part in race strategy next year. As much as I love the thrill of single qualifying laps, I am fearful that next year qualifying and the quality of race starts will determine who wins the most races next year! If drivers cannot follow and attack cars in front due to aerodynamics, who will risk engine life to make an overtake if each engine has to last on average 6 – 7 races.


Yep and with those batteries halo and such they weigh too much. Much could be done to help many things is lower profile tires.

To me less unsprung weight in the tires would sure help if nothing else gets changed.


I would settle on a limit on how many elements you can have on a front wing. According to Lewis he has to be a minimum of 1.4 seconds faster than the car in front to make an overtake. If that is the average for the Mercedes, that is an impossibly high delta for Formula One.

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