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The Greatest Formula 1 Rivalries @ Top Speed

Jim Clark vs Graham Hill

The two were teammates who took Lotus to its greatest heights in the 60s during the golden age of British racing. Both were extremely skilled drivers, and each had a turn on the title.

When Graham won the championship in 1962, Clark turned the tables the following year. Clark went on to win the title again in 1965, following six race wins out of 10.

Even then, Hill came in second place following reliability problems with BRM. It is one of the sadder Formula 1 stories as though their track rivalry was fiery; they had a great off-track friendship. So no one felt the loss more than Hill when Clark crashed and died at a Formula 2 event at Hockenheim in 1968. Hill went on to win the title that season and dedicated it to his fallen rival and friend.

James Hunt vs Niki Lauda

It is one of the more popular rivalries as it was the subject of the 2013 film Rush. They encountered each other in Formula 3 while trying to gain traction at the higher levels. Their rivalry may have been marketed as more than it was off the track, but it was quite intense on it, especially because of their team’s battle for supremacy. Lauda started by winning the title for Ferrari in 1975, placing the pressure on Hunt and McLaren. Following a controversial debate and removal of points for Hunt and his team in 1976, Lauda crashed at the Nurburgring. Despite severe injuries and pain, Lauda returned to defend the championship 42 days and two races later. Hunt did win the 1976 season title though some have questioned if that would have been the case if Lauda did not crash.

Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost

The Senna Prost rivalry was popularized in the late eighties.

It began in 1988 when Senna joined the McLaren team and became Prost’s teammate. Naturally, the French racing driver, who at the time had already garnered two championship wins, was intimidated by the Brazilian’s ambition and aggressive driving.

The first scuffle was at the Portuguese Grand Prix when Senna attempted to block his teammate in a dubious maneuver. The conflict worsened the following season when Senna broke an agreement to not get in each other’s way to the first corner to prevent contact. At the season’s final event, Prost also tried to block Senna from passing, leading both to crash. Prost retired from the race, but Senna continued to finish though he was disqualified on the basis of using an illegal route. Senna won the championship in 1990 and 1991 but was unfortunately killed following a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994. Many at the time believed that the two were great enemies, but Prost was a pallbearer at Senna’s funeral. After his death, Prost remarked that Senna was the only opponent he truly respected.

Mika Hakinnen vs Michael Schumacher

Hakkinen and Schumacher battled on the track for three years from 1998 to 2000 though there were a series of encounters since the 1990 Macau Grand Prix for Formula 3. Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996, and the Flying Fynn aligned with West McLaren Mercedes in 1997. Both of them accumulated more than 15 wins each during those key years, though Schumacher broke his leg at Silverstone in 1999. The injury precluded him from six races; however, Mika’s form dropped significantly. There were several qualifying sessions and races where the two traded pole positions and had wheel-to-wheel action.

That being said, Hakinnen and Schumacher brought the best out of each other.

After the 2000 Italian Grand Prix, Schumacher wept at the press conference after attaining the same number of victories as the previous icon, Senna. Mika was there to put an arm around him and console him. It was one of the most professional yet friendly rivalries the sport had seen.

Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg

Rosberg had driven for Mercedes since 2010, so he was the senior member when Hamilton was recruited in 2013 at the beginning of the turbo-hybrid era. They began as friends in the early years, but the relationship eroded after a few incidents. The first was a collision during the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix where both of their cars were significantly damaged. The following season things went south when Rosberg purposefully blocked Hamilton during qualifying in Malaysia. Later on, during the United States Grand Prix, Hamilton also aggressively pushed Rosberg off the track at turn one. Rosberg was rightfully furious after the race and allegedly threw his podium cap at Hamilton in the cool-down room. There were similar incidences in the 2016 season, including collisions and subversion from the two, but Rosberg emerged the victor. He retired from the sport five days later, which was probably a relief to the team management who had to deal with the two egos.


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