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Speeds up but overtakes down: Pirelli analyses the F1 2017 season

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Speeds up but overtakes down: Pirelli analyses the F1 2017 season
Dec 6, 2017, 7:26 AM

Formula 1’s introduction of wider, faster cars for the 2017 season may have smashed numerous lap records across the calendar, but on-track overta...

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.

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