This is the greatest overtake in F1 history

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The very first Hungarian Grand Prix took place in 1986, and on a track which has become known for processional races, that first race gave us a candidate for one of the best overtaking moves in F1 history, while also reminding us that tyre wear and management have long been crucial to success in F1.

Ayrton Senna took pole position for Lotus as he tended to do those days, and shared the front row with fellow Brazilian Nelson Piquet alongside him for Williams. When the race started Senna got away well, with a fast starting Nigel Mansell (Williams) coming through from fourth to pass Piquet for second into the first corner. Piquet looked to be the man in form, and he got past Mansell into the first corner at the start of the third lap, and early on clearly looked to have a pace advantage over Senna, steadily reeling Senna in at about half a second a lap, catching him as they started lap 9. Over the next few laps Piquet shadowed Senna, looking for a place to pass, but on the tight circuit Turn 1 represented the best opportunity.

Senna held the inside line into Turn 1 on lap 10, and on lap 11 Senna had some breathing space, Piquet losing contact as they came upon a fleet of marshals trying to pull Riccado Patrese’s Brabham off the track. On lap 12 however Piquet made it stick, initially looking like he was going to follow Senna before diving down the inside and swooping past Senna, who seemed to be caught by surprise with Piquet coming from so far back. Piquet proceeded to pull away and build a gap, with the lead going out as far as 8 seconds. But Piquet had been two hard on his tyres, and had to pit first. Senna continued on, having managed to extend the life of his tyres, setting a series of fastest to pull away and build a gap big enough to allow him re-join from his pit stop with a 7 second cushion over Piquet.

The gap from Senna to Piquet remained over the following laps, with Senna seeming on course for victory. But the sight of Nigel Mansell unlapping himself into Turn 1 at the start of lap 50 shortly after Senna passed him indicated Senna was struggling. Senna started to lose over a second a lap to Piquet, and with 27 laps to go it seemed inevitable that Piquet would surely pass Senna. Coming up to complete lap 53 Piquet exited the final corner glued to Senna’s tail. Senna moved to the middle of the track to cover the inside line and force Piquet to go around the outside into Turn 1. Piquet surged left of Senna, putting his outside wheels over the white line on the straight as he dived around Senna, locking his brakes hard and screeching into a slide around the outside of the corner in front of Senna. A thrilling pass, and now Piquet was clear. Senna struggled to stay within sight, but eventually dropped back, and Piquet recorded a hard fought victory at the first Hungarian Grand Prix.


5 responses to “This is the greatest overtake in F1 history

  1. I can’t believe YouTube titles anything with Piquet and Genius in the same line!! For a triple champion his stock is remarkably low. Something to do with team orders I’d guess.

    As to greatest overtake in history, I’m assuming artistic license. Piquet overtook a struggling Lotus in that seasons dominant car and held a slide. Woohoo

    Of course others will claim Mina passing Schumacher in Belgium in 2000 is the finest but again a straight line pass is hardly worthy of a place on the pantheon.

    1987 Mansell passing Piquet at Silverstone? Or better still Mansell around the outside of Berger at the original Peretalda corner in Mexico in 1990? Personally, Alonso taking Schumacher around the outside of 130R in 2005 wins it.

    The common factor? Bravery around a seriously fast corner where a misjudgement would lead into a certain crash…

  2. I agree, it is the greatest overtaking move in F1. Piquet is criminally underrated for a tripple champion who won with and without ground effects, turbos and three different engine manufacturers through the age of Senna, Prost, Lauda, etc.

  3. By the way, I also think the 1986 cars hit a perfect sweetspot between, performance, looks and competitiveness. Them being able to race each other at Hungaroring (of all tracks, shorter and tighter then!!!) and allow 4 title contenders being proof of it.

    • totally agree on the 86 cars, they were my favourite, plenty of power, not so easy to apply it 🙂

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