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Michael Schumacher ended the season as Formula 1's top overtaker

Michael Schumacher and Bruno Senna collideMichael Schumacher ended the season as Formula 1's top overtaker, with his impressive opening lap efforts throughout 2011 helping him edge out Sebastien Buemi.

In strategic data compiled by Mercedes GP over the course of the campaign, and obtained by AUTOSPORT, Schumacher's end-of-season tally has been recorded as 116 passes - just two ahead of his Scuderia Toro Rosso rival.

Schumacher's tally was most certainly helped by the fact that he was able to make up so many positions in the opening stint of races - because he often qualified further down the field that his car was capable of.

Nevertheless, the team was well aware that throughout 2011, Schumacher’s race pace was every bit as good as team-mate Nico Rosberg’s so he could recover well on Sundays - which points towards the amount of progress the seven-time champion has made since his F1 comeback.

The top 10 rankings for the best overtakers of 2011, according to Mercedes GP’s data, are:

Pos   Driver                 Passes
 1.   Michael Schumacher     116
 2.   Sebastien Buemi        114
 3.   Kamui Kobayashi        99
 4.   Jaime Alguersuari      94
 5.   Pastor Maldonado       91
 6.   Paul di Resta          90
 7.   Sergio Perez           87
 8.   Rubens Barrichello     86
 9.   Jenson Button          85
10.   Felipe Massa           82

With the top positions dominated by drivers who were often battling in the midfield, it shows that racing in the pack offers greater opportunities to notch up overtaking moves.

That also explains why world champion Sebastian Vettel, who more often than not started at the front of the field, ended the campaign fourth from the bottom in the rankings with just 27 moves over the course of the season.

Mercedes GP’s data is compiled for the benefit of its strategic department, and is based on a combination of video, timing data and GPS technology – rather than just simple lap charts.

Its end of season analysis shows that there were a total of 1486 overtaking moves over the course of 2011.

However, if you discount the moves that take place on an opening lap (150), and those that were helped because a rival had a damaged car (124), it leaves a total of 1212 moves throughout the campaign.

Further whittling the figures down to try and view only what many consider to be genuine overtaking moves, so not those on the three slowest teams (310) or by team-mates (80), as they can often help each other, it leaves a total of 822.

Out of these, 452 moves were considered normal overtaking moves, while 370 took place thanks to the use of the new-for-2011 DRS. It means DRS accounted for roughly 45% of the number of overtaking moves over the course of the season.

In terms of individual races, the Turkish Grand Prix witnessed the highest number of overtakes at 85 – ahead of Canada (79) and China (67). The races with the fewest moves were Monaco (16), Australia (17) and India and Brazil (18).

In terms of DRS’s impact, it accounted for the most moves in Turkey (50) and Abu Dhabi (50), ahead of China (37) and Spain (29).

Its smallest impact came in Monaco (2), with Melbourne (5), Silverstone (6) and Brazil (7) also offering limited opportunities.

British GP competition
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