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Biggest Rivalries in Formula 1

  • In Formula 1 even teammates or former friends can become rivals
  • Like it happened with Hamilton and Rosberg at the Mercedes team
  • Piquet and Mansell or Senna and Prost often collided with each other as teammates

Formula 1 is one of the toughest sports where even teammates can be big rivals of each other. As we can already see several cases of it from the Hamilton vs Rosberg relationship to the famous title fight between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Let’s see the biggest rivalries in Formula 1 happening so far. 

Teammates usually help each other in other sports but not in Formula 1. Here every driver is fighting for his own success first,  the common aims of the team are only secondary. The team owners often try to smooth out the relationship between their pilots with less success. As sooner or later a rivalry will start between them and only ends with the departure of one of the drivers. Even though in recent years it is much more rare to see teammates crashing out each other, rivalry between the drivers still exists as we can see in the following examples.

Biggest rivalries in Formula 1

5. Michael Schumacher vs Damon Hill

Damon Hill 2012-ben
Damon Hill – Supermac1961, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The seven-time German world champion Michael Schumacher fought one the biggest battles of his career in 1994 against Damon Hill.  Schumacher was driving for Benetton in that year marked by the tragic death of Ayrton Senna in the San Marino Grand Prix. With the death of Senna, both the German and the British driver had a chance of winning their first titles though. Schumacher led only a single point ahead of Hill in the last race in Australia. Where they collided with each other and both of them had to retire. The German won the title but Hill continued to chase him in the next season when they had several more crashes. Finally in 1996 the Williams driver managed to win the championship, while his rival was only third with Ferrari. Sadly Ferrari seems to be far from winning any title this season according to online gambling sites in the UK.

4. Nelson Piquet vs Nigel Mansell

Going back to the previous decade, we can find the pair of Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell in the biggest rivalries in Formula 1. Both of them drove for Williams but didn’t like each other at all. Mansell was already at the team when the two-time world champion Piquet joined Williams in 1986. Of course, he expected to be the no1 driver of the team, but Mansell didn’t think so. He was as fast as the Brazilian, which led to a lot of tension between the two pilots. Piquet refused to share data with Mansell while their rivalry helped a third driver, Alain Prost to the title in that year. They spent one more season together when Piquet actually won his third title. He still decided to leave the team and joined Lotus.  Mansell didn’t have a great relationship with his next teammate, Alain Prost either at his new team, Ferrari. Who made him return to his former team, Williams in 1990. He won his only title with them in 1992 before moving to IndyCar, where he also became champion.

3. Lewis Hamilton vs Niko Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton – Wikipédia
Hamilton – Morio, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Now let’s see the biggest rivalry of recent years which happened in the Mercedes team between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. The two pilots were great friends for many years when Hamilton arrived at Rosberg’s team, Mercedes in 2013. First things were going well between them, but slowly their rivalry became more intense. As their car started to dominate in 2014, both drivers were fighting for the championship title. They had several collisions in the next three years, often meaning the retirement of both cars. Hamilton still managed to win the championship in 2014 and 2015. Rosberg fought back in 2016 though in spite of Hamilton trying everything even in the last race. But the German retired suddenly after his first and only title in 2016. While Hamilton is still driving and fighting for his record 8th title  in the 2021 F1 season with online sportsbooks in the UK favoring him to win it.

2. James Hunt vs Niki Lauda

Going back again in time to the 1970s, we find a legendary pair also fighting for the title, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The two drivers were totally the opposite of each other but both of them were very fast on the track. Hunt was driving for Mclaren while Lauda was a pilot of Ferrari in 1976 when they battled for the championship. Lauda was leading the overall standing when his nearly fatal crash happened in Nurburgring. He made one of the most memorable comebacks and was back in his driving seat only six weeks after his accident. But at that time Hunt took over the lead. And even though the Austrian managed to get very close to him, the British driver won the title at the end of the season with a single point. In spite of their dramatic battle, the two of them admired each other and were great friends outside racing.

1. Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost

The most famous rivalry in Formula 1 should be the one between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Both of them belong to the best drivers of the sport and they happened to be teammates at Mclaren in the 1980s. Senna joined the British team in 1988 where Prost had already won two world championships. But it didn’t really bother the Brazilian who fought wheel-to-wheel with his teammate. In 1989 they collided in the last race in Japan, for which Senna was disqualified after the race. It also meant that Prost won the title. While in the following season the same thing happened, but this time Senna became the champion following their crash. The French was driving for Ferrari then with their rivalry continuing until his retirement in 1993.

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