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Over the last decade, regulation tweaks and driver-activated overtaking aids have increased the number of passing opportunities across single-seater series. But while there are more passes than ever, there’s a perception among fans that far too many of the overtaking moves they see drivers pull off are not down to skill, but due to the press of a button.

Formula 1 has had its rear wing-opening Drag Reduction System since the 2011 season which can be used in certain sections of the circuit when within a second of the car ahead. This year, despite the radical new regulations, the volume of DRS zones remained the same and even increased at some circuits.

But that does not mean there were not some excellent moves made outside of DRS zones in F1 this season. And across the vast spectrum of single-seater competitions, there were many examples to show that the art of overtaking is still alive and well today.

Epps storms from 19th to first in five corners (Walter Hayes Trophy)

In the Progression Race of the Walter Hayes Trophy – a shootout event for Formula Ford 1600 cars held at Silverstone – former British Touring Car Championship racer Mike Epps produced a sensational drive to go from 23rd on the grid to win by 9.383s.

But what was most impressive was how rapidly he acquired the lead. He overtook six cars by the first corner, and had cleared six more before the race was red-flagged due to a crash.

At the restart, Epps (blue car with white nose, #30) was 19th on the grid, and on a wet track overtook ten cars between Copse and Maggotts. Using the inside line down the Wellington Straight he flew past six more, and turned third into first through Brooklands and Luffield. All the more remarkable given Epps had never driven a FF1600 car prior to the weekend.

Gray’s towering pass at Croft (British F4)

Third to first, around the outside of Tower? 👀

No problem, says @OllieGray63 🚀#BritishF4 | #ROKiT

— ROKiT British F4 (@BritishF4) November 21, 2022

Formula 4 cars do not have any overtaking aids and, like F3, the British F4 series uses spec cars. The third Ollie on this list, Williams junior Gray (#63) completed a third-to-first move at Croft in the British Formula 4 championship by sneaking up on and then going around the outside of two battling drivers.

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Oliver Goethe goes for it in the Pau Grand Prix (Euroformula Open)

Currently the most lucrative race to win in junior single-seaters, the Pau Grand Prix takes place on the French city’s narrow and undulating streets. Having last been held in 2019 – before the COVID-19 pandemic – the track had new challenges this year with resurfacing in various places.

Euroformula dominator Oliver Goethe looked well prepared to win the grand prix race, having topped both practice sessions, qualifying and then Saturday’s race, which set the grid for the grand prix. But a slow start and a near miss with the barriers at the first braking zone on Sunday left him having to fight back from fifth. His recovery up the order included this incredible dummy move on Filip Ugran into the tight Virage du Buisson hairpin.

Ollie Bearman takes two in two at Zandvoort (FIA F3)

Despite the series featuring 30 spec cars, all equipped with DRS, FIA Formula 3 can be light on overtaking so moves are often hard fought for. Nominated for FIA Action of the Year, which takes into account FIA series across all types of motorsport, this brilliant Bearman sequence occurred after the pack was bunched up by a Safety Car period in the FIA Formula 3 feature race at Zandvoort.

While everyone else ran line astern, Ferrari junior Ollie Bearman (#6) made a brave go at Alexander Smolyar (#11) and managed to pass him around the outside at the high-speed Scheivlak before then squeezing down the inside of Gregoire Saucy (#8) at the next braking zone.

Iwasa makes a strong first impression on debut (F2)


You are watching a ✨ master ✨ at work #BahrainGP #F2 @ayumuiwasa_cars

— Formula 2 (@Formula2) March 20, 2022

Many of the moves made by Ayumu Iwasa during his debut F2 weekend at Bahrain were not picked up on broadcast or the highlights reel, but the ones that were showed the potential of the Red Bull junior. He charged from 22nd to eighth on debut, then up to 16th on Sunday’s feature race. Having landed with a splash, he claimed pole positions and race wins later in the year, and his startline overtakes were also particularly entertaining.

Daruvala’s Jeddah triple (F2)

Storming move from @DaruvalaJehan on his way to P3 📈#SaudiArabianGP #F2

— Formula 2 (@Formula2) March 27, 2022

Red Bull junior Jehan Daruvala overtook three cars in one go at turn one in Jeddah – a corner where even the best in F1 can’t keep it clean or on track when trying to pass each other – in F2’s feature race. He gained a further eight places after his three-in-one move to finish on the podium.

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Evans on a charge in Rome (Formula E)

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans had one point from the first three races of the 2021-22 Formula E season, then hit more familiar form by winning both Rome E-Prix races from ninth and fourth on the grid.

In the second of those, Evans made it into the lead before being shuffled back to fourth, but climbed back to the front by squeezing past Jean-Eric Vergne, slipstreaming Robin Frijns and then taking the lead back from Andre Lotterer at the uphill, off-camber turn six corner. It might have not looked too spectacular, but was a particularly skillful move.

Newgarden’s last-gasp winner at Texas (IndyCar)

Want to leave it late to make a race-winning move? How about two seconds before the chequered flag.

After 96 laps sat behind his Penske team-mate Scott McLaughin under green flag conditions, and only two laps spent ahead of him in the middle of the race, Josef Newgarden timed it perfectly to steal the IndyCar win at the Texas oval from his friend and rival by using the slipstream from the leader and two lapped cars ahead at turn four.

He drew alongside McLaughlin as they went through the final corner, and McLaughlin lost momentum as he picked a tighter line at the final turn. Newgarden kept the throttle open and pipped him to victory by 0.0669 seconds at the chequered flag.

O’Ward’s Alabama slammer (IndyCar)

The winning move in the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama came two thirds of the way through the race and was, technically, only for 12th place.

Approaching turn five, McLaren SP’s Patricio O’Ward made a huge lunge on Rinus VeeKay. At the 300-metre board before the corner he came off the throttle, and went from being over a car length behind to having nosed ahead by the time they reached the corner. But the move wasn’t yet done, as he had to keep the momentum going on the outside line to complete the pass. The pair filtered back to the front once the pit stops played out and O’Ward ultimately won.

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Vettel and Tsunoda battle in Baku (F1)

(Watch on YouTube)

Sebastian Vettel’s overtake on this occasion may not have been fast, but it’s brave to go side-by-side between the walls in Baku, which has some of the tightest corners on the F1 calendar.

The Aston Martin driver came from far behind at the start to set up his move up on AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda at turn three, taking the outside line despite there barely being enough room for two cars. They kept it clean, and Tsunoda had conceded the position by turn four.

Vettel pinches eighth in Austin (F1)

We have a winner! 👑

Your Overtake King for 2022 is… Sebastian Vettel 💪

Thank you to everyone who voted this year 👍@cryptocom #FFTB

— Formula 1 (@F1) December 8, 2022

The last-lap battle between Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen for eighth place at the United States Grand Prix helped make him RaceFans readers’ driver of the weekend. The pair squabbled over the final lap through multiple corners, with Vettel getting the pass done and fending off a final corner attempt by Magnussen to hold onto eighth place at the line.

Leclerc clears Hamilton at Copse (F1)

Hamilton and Leclerc battling for position around Copse corner#BritishGP #F1

— Formula 1 (@F1) July 3, 2022

A year on from a contentious clash with Max Verstappen at Copse corner, Lewis Hamilton had another edge-of-the-seat moment there in this year’s British Grand Prix.

This time the driver he was up against was Charles Leclerc, who pulled off a breathtaking move to sweep around the outside of Hamilton into the fastest corner on the Silverstone circuit, despite being on older, slower tyres. Hamilton would later get by Leclerc and stay ahead, but it was classy move at a high-commitment corner.

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2022 F1 season

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