What Makes Passing Difficult In Formula 1?

What Makes Passing Difficult In Formula 1

In motorsport, perhaps no other league or federation is as competitive as Formula 1. The world’s best drivers often say their dream was always to make it into Formula 1. The cars are some of the most astounding feats of racing technology ever seen. With such incredible cars and such talented drivers, it only makes sense that Formula 1 is about as competitive as racing can get. With such intense competition, overtaking can be quite difficult in Formula 1. This depends on several factors, including how similar cars can be in terms of speed, the track layout, and aerodynamics. These factors combined can prove to be a difficult time when it comes to passing in the sport.

Similar Cars

It’s not uncommon for a Formula 1 race to be decided by milliseconds. The competition is so fierce, with such talented drivers and such precise cars, that teams compete for an edge in the tiniest fractions of time. To pass another car, a driver must have an edge over the other in terms of time or speed.

Seeing as all the drivers on track are so immensely talented, their personal abilities don’t play as large of a role as one would think. They’re often braking at the same exact points and taking nearly identical lines around the racetrack. As such, it’s often left up to the car’s performance to gain an edge over the other drivers in order to pass. With cars being so similar in terms of performance, it’s very difficult to gain enough of an edge to overtake.

Track Layout

Another reason that passing can be difficult and infrequent in Formula 1 is due to the different track layouts that are seen at each race. Some tracks are easier than others to pass on. A track with a lot of corners can be more difficult to pass on than a track with many long straights. For example, the Monaco Grand Prix, which takes place on a street circuit, is infamous for being nearly impossible to overtake. With such tight corners and hardly any straights, the Monaco Grand Prix features hardly any passing at all. As such, the ability to overtake can depend largely on the layout of the track at which a Grand Prix is held.


With such a thin margin of differentiation between drivers and their cars, every advantage is important, and aerodynamics is high on the list of priorities. When passing another driver, especially on corners, significant downforce makes it easier to do so. This essentially sticks the car to the track and makes it more maneuverable. But sometimes, especially in windy or stormy weather conditions, the moving air makes it much more difficult to generate downforce and, thus, pass. Formula 1 teams can try to adapt to this, but there’s no easy fix when weather conditions don’t allow for easy passing. Overall, quite a few factors have to line up for easy passing.