There have been some great rivalries throughout the 70 years in F1. Racers, side by side on the grid, pushing each other to the absolute limit and further! Some rivalries have been powered by the utmost respect for each other, some however were fuelled by bad blood!
Here we have a brief look at 5 memorable rivalries and we ask you to vote for your favourite.
Michael Schumacher vs Mika Hakkinen
This was one of the rivalries driven by respect. The McLaren of Mika Hakkinen soared to the top of Formula 1 in 1998, at a time that Schumacher was really Settling in to his role at Ferrari. They would push each other all season but ultimately it was Hakkinen that would be victorious. Winning the 1998 Drivers championship and helping the team win the constructors chamionship too. The title was Hakkinen’s by 14 points, however the broken leg which Schumacher suffered at Silverstone cost him any chance of mounting another challenge the following year.
Then came the new millenium, the changing of the guard and the start of a dominance of the sport which spanned 5 years! Hakkinen’s best shot came and went in 2000.
It was always a rivalry built on respect though between the pair – Schumacher has admitted that he took great pleasure from racing against Hakkinen.
This respect was evidenced clearly in the year 2000 when Schumacher listened intently to Hakkinen’s complaints over a rather aggressive defensive move during the Belgian Grand Prix, shown in the image above.
Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg
BAD BLOOD! Now its easy to forget looking back, that these 2 young drivers grew up together. They competed alongside each other and even bunked up together in their early karting careers.
This friendship soon soured when Lewis Hamilton joined the Mercedes team back in 2013. It was all nicey, nicey for the first year as the car was still way off the pace.
Cue the dawn of the hybrid era in F1 – 2014 is where things started to go wrong for their relationship, but brilliantly for their success.
The Mercedes team car was absolutely perfect. The team had been planning this for a while and knew they had something special, but so did the 2 racers. Neither one of them were willing to yield to the other and miss the opportunity for world championships.
This led to the pair having many on track incidents over the few years. We had cap throwing, extremely defensive maneuvers on the track and quite a few awkward interviews.
By the end of 2016 and after claiming his 1 and only world championship. Nico retired from F1. It was 2 championships to 1 in the 4 years they shared together at Mercedes in favour of Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel vs Mark Webber
Another intra team rivalry had happened just before the dominance of Mercedes. The Red Bull years as I should probably call them, happened from 2010 until 2013. Adrian Newey had designed a beauty of a car and there was just nothing that could come close.
So it was up to the team mates to keep us entertained and boy did they.
Webber was treated like a No.2 driver to Red Bull academy alumni Sebastian Vettel, but the relationship was pushed time and time again before its eventual implosion.
The pair came together in Turkey while fighting for the lead, This cost the team a comfortable one-two finish, all commentary pointed to Webber being in the clear, but Red Bull unsurprisingly defended their future World Champion.
From then on, Webber did very little to protect his team-mate. “Not bad for a No. 2 driver” Mark said after winning the Silverstone Grand Prix, even though his team mate Vettel was given priority to try a new front wing design.
It would be remiss to not mention the whole ‘Multi-21’ fiasco.. During the 2013 Malaysian GP, Vettel completely ignored team orders and pushed his way past Webber for victory. This completely destroyed what little was left within their team. Webber retired shortly after.
James Hunt vs Niki Lauda
One of the most memorable rivalries occured over six years between the Britton James Hunt and the Austrian Niki Lauda. While they competed on the track, Hunt readily admitted that the two were good friends from their early days “gypsi(ng) around Europe together” in Formula Three. They became “mates, not just casual acquaintances.”
Their season in 1976 inspired the Hollywood blockbuster movie “Rush” and involved a very near death experience for one of the 2 racers.
James Hunt was THE Formula 1 playboy, but he was stripped of his win at Silverstone for driving on an access road to return to the pits. The victory this time was handed to Lauda. But this was all before Lauda suffered life-threatening burns in an accident at the Nurburgring.
Incredibly Lauda was only away for two races before he felt the need to return. The competition would go on until the last race! Unfortunately for Niki, the last race of the season brought with it majorly hazardous conditions and at that point he decided that it just wasn’t worth the risk and withdrew from the race. This gifted the championship to Hunt and he took the title by a single point.
Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost
Our last entry in this article comes in the form of 2 of the greats of the sport and is the undisputed, greatest rivalry in the history of F1.
It was all out war between Senna and Prost while at McLaren. It was another story of team mates in equal machinery, fighting it out for the top prize.
Things came to a head at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix when Senna dived down the inside of Prost. This took Prost out of the race but in a twist of fate handed him the title, as Senna was disqualified due to the path he took on the way back to the track.
Then a year later, while Prost was now at Ferrari, the rivalry was still in everyones mind. The pair had a collision once again at Suzuka, this time it would be Senna who became World Champ. Prost branded him a “man without value”, Senna eventually admitted that the move was premeditated and that it was in retaliation for the collision in the previous year.
The story of the two fierce rivals did end on a positive note however. It was during the podium in Australia in 1993, which was Prost’s last race. Prost and Senna hugged after the Brazilian pulled his competitor up to the top step of the podium.
So that concludes the article. Which of the 5 rivalries had you at the edge of your seat the most? Which was the most fierce?
Please take the opportunity to vote in the poll below and react on our post on our Facebook page. You can also comment below with any rivalry you think we missed and I will look into following up with a part 2!