Pat Symonds on overtaking...and Clip The Apex


Staff Member
This month's Motor Sport Magazine has an article by Pat Symonds on overtaking.
It's not online (yet), although they do reference it on the magazine page.
Elsewhere in the issue ... ex-Renault F1 technical director Pat Symonds discusses the overtaking debate.

There are some interesting nuggets in the article (apparently), including mention of an FIA-commissioned overtaking study carried out by the late journalist Jabby Crombac. Crombac's analysis covered the period from 1955 to 2000, using lap charts only, and showed a peak in 1963, followed by a rapid decline from then until 1975 and a general further decline to 2000. As far as we know, this has never been published.

Symonds then talks about the weaknesses of such an approach and goes on to say:
More recently, the advent of sector timing, television coverage and the internet has improved the ability to examine data. One of the best sources is an internet site called Clip The Apex, which has tabulated overtaking manoeuvres since 1983. After 2003 the data is enhanced by reference to television feeds. First-lap overtaking is ignored, as is overtaking backmarkers and position changes that come about as the result of a pitstop. It also adds a vital item of information in showing which races were wet. Unfortunately, even something as simple as this is not clear-cut. For example, if a race starts with the competitors on intermediate tyres but by 10 laps in they are all on dry tyres, should this be counted as a wet race?

I don't want to copy and paste the whole article as that would be plagiarism but I think we can get away with the above paragraph considering it relates to this very site :D

The specific mention of what is and isn't a wet race has always been a problem.
I actually posted a thread a while ago asking for input on several races as I was unsure whether to class them as wet or not. KekeTheKing was good enough to post up some old video footage which helped to settle a few of the trickier ones.

For those who have read it, was there anything different which hasn't already been discussed?
I plan to pick up a copy of the magazine tomorrow so will offer my thoughts in more detail then.

In the meantime I'd like to take this opportunity to offer my congratulations to Galahad who is responsible for compiling all the data and of course KekeTheKing who provides valuable input. This completes the full set I think: radio, TV, internet and now print. :)

P.S. Any guesses as to which member is Pat? :D
Bloody Hell - brilliant
Nice to see recognition for the hard work that everyone has put in. Coincidentally I read that magazine in a dentist for the first last week. Lets keep a close eye on the member count then
Great job Galahad.My congratulations

Not of course forgetting the man who made it all possible.Congrats Bro.
You deserve all the congratulations and adulations you get Galahad, KekeTheKing and Brogan. You've set a new benchmark for thoroughness in the statistical analysis of Formula One. I couldn't believe my good fortune when I found your data on overtaking. I could tell that what you had done and were doing was without precedent, peerless and beyond professional.

Thanks guys! I would love to see the FIA's data. Did they come to an ultimate conclusion why overtaking has become increasingly difficult?
I haven't actually seen the article yet Keke.
I was made aware of it by someone who is far too modest to post about it ;)

I'm hoping to pick up a copy tomorrow so I can post a few more details.
I'll be interested to hear what Symonds and Co. come up with. As we all know, there are multiple factors to the overtaking decline, and I wonder if they will single out one reason above others.
Funnily enough I read this yesterday.

The article is more about exploding some myths and exploring the contributory factors than offering concrete suggestions. Symonds discusses how much overtaking is the right amount - the FOTA survey in which a majority (I think) said that the amount was 'about right' for example. Why wet races feature more overtaking - because grip levels are low and unpredictable, and drivers can use more than one racing line. Why hard tyres aren't the answer to marbling off-line, because what you need is more variability in tyre performance - as at Montreal last season - to give cars enough of a performance differential.

He talks about circuit design too, and a study conducted by Toyota that concluded you need a slow corner onto a very long straight culminating in an even slower corner (but not a chicane!)

As you would expect he defends the work of the Overtaking Working Group (undermined by the double diffusers) but claims that aero isn't the only contributor, which is patently true since even the current cars can race closely and pass each other under specific circumstances, or at particular circuits. In fact the overall thesis is: this is a complex area with multiple factors, and only addressing one of them in isolation is unlikely to bring about real improvement.
Congratulations to all involved for beginning to get recognition for your great work at the top level! I say begining because hopefully this is still just the start and your data can be put to good use by more and more involved parties - and the site gain further recognition and publicity as a result.

I picked up a copy of the magazine today and had a quick read of it.

What's more interesting to me than the overtaking figures (which we already know all about considering we compile them), is the talk of the various studies which have been carried out, which most people I suspect know nothing about.

To follow up on Galahad's post above referring to the Toyota study, not only was it slow corner, long straight, slow corner which was deemed to be the optimum configuration for overtaking, Symonds suggested that the second corner should be the same direction as the first, so the overtaking car would still be on the inside line if the pass hadn't been completed on the straight.

There is also mention of grid order and how the qualifying format of fastest first really is the biggest problem - we've already discussed that on this site before. He also talks about designing cars to deal with wake rather than the aerodynamics only working well when leading at the front. I believe that particular issue has also been discussed here - might have even been Galahad who raised it?

All in all, there wasn't anything too unremarkable or that hasn't been discussed before, but it's still worth a read.

Considering how widely our data is used throughout the piece, I'm surprised we didn't even get a courtesy email letting us know.
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