In a new regular feature, we will be taking a look at an overtaking manoeuvre that has caught our eye from a race weekend. Using examples from the very best in international motor sport we will continue to educate drivers in the best racing practices.
Our first ‘Overtake of the Week’ award goes to 19-year old French driver Matthieu Vaxiviere. Racing in the extremely competitive Formula Renault 3.5 series at the Hungaroring, the Frenchman, driving the black Lotus car, was locked in a tight battle with Malaysia’s Jazeman Jaafar. He managed to overtake his rival in a move that showed bravery and commitment coupled with level-headed analysis and a strong understanding of racing conditions.
Scrapping for seventh place, both drivers were looking to score championship points whilst also trying to impress team bosses, sponsors and potential onlookers in the motor sport community.
Vaxiviere, a member of the Lotus F1 Junior Team, had caught Jaafar but was struggling to find a way past. Exiting turn one, he had already tried to pass the Malaysian driver but had not succeeded. However, the move was still on despite Vaxiviere being on the outside going into turn two.
Approaching the hairpin left-hander, the Frenchman believed he had enough grip to maintain his position on the outside of Jaafar and could complete the move going in to the next right-hander. It was a brave but calculated decision with plenty of trust in his fellow driver not to run him off the track.
As the two drivers continued through the corner, Vaxiviere was able to get on the power earlier and edge his nose ahead. The Malaysian driver had to respond at this point and was forced into picking up his power momentarily too soon.
The stab of the throttle caused the car to lose grip and Jaafar slid towards the exit of the corner. At this point, Vaxiviere was able to maintain his position on the outside of him and force Jaafar to lift off the throttle.
Clearly having lost the next corner, Jaafar was forced to switch to the wider line and give up the position to the charging 19-year old.
It was a fantastic move that demonstrated commitment to the pass. It also highlighted Vaxiviere’s understanding and analysis of events around him. Aware of his greater grip levels, he was willing to make a move that usually would not have been possible. This allowed him to get past his rival more speedily and improve his position.
Credit must also go to Jaafar who showed measured driving in defending his position but not running into the other car or engaging in dirty tactics. Both drivers were safe and fast.
Watch race highlights here (Vaxiviere’s overtake is at 1:10):