Formula One is a crazy sport. Debates around the racers and F1 title rivalries of all time are quite mundane. Time is a swift component in everyone’s life. However, these racers seem to defy all odds and race against time.
Amidst all the attention and the brilliant skills on display, sometimes the sport gets grotesque. Rivalries pop up due to their respective ego clashing and jealousy. Besides the rivalries between title contenders from different outfits, clashes between teammates appear in the forefront as well.
Let us have a look at the Top 10 most intense F1 title rivalries of all time:
#10. Fernando Alonso vs Sebastian Vettel – Alonso’s greatness or Vettel’s emergence?
To begin with, we are having a look at one of the most intense Formula 1 rivalry. The rivalry revolves around Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, two of the greats you have ever graced their presence on the racing track.
The Spanish Alonso is widely known for putting an end to Michael Schumacher’s dominance in the first part of the century. On the other hand, Sebastian Vettel with his four World Championships has etched his name in Formula 1 annals.
Sometimes rivalries in the Formula One World doesn’t always time stem from the clashes on the race track, but on the extent of the driver’s achievements. This rivalry between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso is among them.
The rivalry started just before the 2010 season when Alonso swapped forces to become a racer for Ferrari. The world expected Alonso to add on to his World Championship tally (2005 and 2006) but it didn’t happen that way. 2010 marked the emergence of the German at the beginning of Red Bull’s dominance.
In spite of giving his all on the track, the Spaniard had to suffer four Championship losses to Vettel. Though Adrian Newry (Formula 1 car engineer) back then would try and enhance the inferior Ferrari, it wouldn’t suffice. Alonso could only accumulate points and podium finishes when the Red Bull team or the German driver faltered.
The bitterness of the rivalry came to the forefront in a press conference after the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix. Better blurted out that Alonso never liked him.
#9. Alan Jones vs Carlos Reutemann – Fiercest F1 Title Rivalry
The rivalry between Argentine Carlos Reutemann and Australian Alan Jones stands as the perfect example of how tables can turn.
1980 served is an excellent portrayal of the calm before the storm. 1980 witnessed Williams achieve the feat of winning both the titles. While Alan Jones triumphed in the 1980 Driver’s Championship, Williams took home the Constructor’s Championship by 54 points.
1981 didn’t begin off in the sourest possible manner for the two riders in Williams outfit. It got all worse wash in the Brazilian Grand Prix. All thanks to Reutemann. He refused team orders to let the Australian drive by which enraged Jones quite normatively.
The rivalry intensified with every race in the 1981 season as both the Williams driver tried to outpace each other. To Williams’ dismay, they kept stealing each other’s points. The Brazilian Nelson Piquet acted slyly and capitalized on the feud between the two teammates. Piquet went on to claim the Championship by a solitary point.
Though the Argentine departed at the end of the season, the intensity of the rivalry didn’t die off. Reutemann decided to continue with Williams. However, just two races into the following season, the Argentine bid adieu to Williams and Formula 1.
Things got worse after Jones’ retirement when Reutemann suggested the pair to buy the hatchet. Jones sneered abusively, “Yeah. In your (explicit) back, mate.”
The rivalry between Reutemann and Jones is still considered to be one of the most intense F1 title rivalries of all time.
#8. Damon Hill vs Michael Schumacher
Can one ever imagine Michael Schumacher to be a villain? Yes, you heard it right. After the 1994 controversies media dubbed Schumacher as Formula One’s new villain.
The 1994 season in the world of Formula 1 happened to be a mixed bag of emotions. Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola encapsulated formula 1 with grief. Since life has to go on, Damon Hill was handed over the responsibility of propelling Williams to the World Championship title.
Damon Hill was targeting his first world title. Quite interestingly, one of the brightest Formula 1 prodigies, Michael Schumacher was chasing his first championship as well.
The duo kept on pushing each other to the wire. Everything was at stake in the final race. The final race in Adelaide showcased a crash between Schumacher and Damon Hill. Mistakenly Schumacher hit the hill, damaging his car. He then fastened his pace when he saw Hill seizing the position, Schumacher colliding with Hill. None of them could finish the race which resulted in Schumacher as the champion due to his better points tally.
In the next season too, Michael finished first whereas Damon finished second. This season too was full of collisions.
In a recent interview, Hill commented that he wouldn’t have ever overtaken Schumacher had he known that his rival’s Benetton was damaged.
#7. Lewis Hamilton vs Fernando Alonso
The reigning two-time World champion, Fernando Alonso was under the influence that he would be the number one guy in the team. However, the rookie British driver had other thoughts.
Lewis Hamilton gave a tough time to the Spaniard from the very onset. Alonso was egoistic that he completely rampaged Hamilton’s timing in Hungary. He just wouldn’t entertain getting defeated by his teammate.
Rumors have it that Alonso even went on to threaten the McLaren boss of leaving the roster. However, Ron Dennis (the McLaren boss) wouldn’t let any superstar racer leave the time. Therefore, both Alonso and Hamilton stayed making it no good for the brand.
The continuous tussle between the two teammates McLaren the title. Italian powerhouse constructor Ferrari slid past amidst all the ensuing controversies and rose victorious. Kimi Raikkonen was crowned as the 2007 Formula 1 Grand Prix champion.
This rivalry threw light on the bitter side of Formula 1 drivers. It focuses on how the sport contains teams that are crippled on the inside.
Both the drivers appearing twice in the list highlight their strong controversial nature. Thus, making this rivalry one of the greatest F1 title rivalries of all time.
#6. Mika Hakkinen vs Michael Schumacher – Flying Finn or German Speedstar?
The two technical maestros of the game collided against each other in the late part of the 1990s and early 2000. This rivalry is one of the most intriguing and greatest F1 title rivalries of all time.
Throughout his entire career, Michael Schumacher has had a lot of fierce competition. However, the one from the “Flying Finn” Mika Hakkinen, stands out (not even Damon Hill comes close).
The rivalry is unlike the other ones and is mainly based on cooperation and mutual respect. Each driver’s regard for the other’s skills is a different dogma altogether.
Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher had been racing against each other since their F3 days. The rivalry has to its credit the greatest overtake in the history of Formula One that has left an indelible mark on every fans’ mind. It pictures Hakkinen overtaking the German at Spa and going on to win the Belgian Grand Prix in 2000.
However, it was back in 1998 when it all got heated up a notch. Schumacher was trying to put Ferrari on the Formula 1 map as a serious title contender. Hakkinen and McLaren racing soar high as the Finn went to win the title in that season by 14 points.
1999 and a broken leg suffered at Silverstone meant that Schumacher wouldn’t be able to pose any threat at Mika’s title defense. However, the turn of the millennium witnessed Schumacher reach the zenith as the won five straight Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships. Hakkinen by then had no more chance of coming back.
#5. Sebastian Vettel vs Mark Webber – Red Bull Rivals
One of the fiercest F1 title rivalries of all time witnessed the jostles of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. Five years in the Red Bull camp video took the test of the relationship of the teammates.
It all began in 2007 Japan Grand Prix where the German obliterated Webber’s chances of winning the title. In the Red Bull Camp, bitterness escalated quickly between the two drivers.
In the 2010 Turkey Grand Prix, the two racers collided costing Red Bull the top-two finish. While the entire world found the German prodigy guilty, the Red Bull team’s blatant defense of him angered Webber.
Despite having the team’ s continuous support Webber would go on to win at Silverstone. After the win, Webber gave out a sour public statement “Not bad for a number 2 driver” that bittered the broken relationship.
Vettel went on to win four Driver’s Championships and handing Red Bull the Constructor’s Championships all along. This time, however, Webber’s lack of help at the 2012 finale at Brazil left Vettel furious.
The famous “Multi 21” saga ensued and Vettel would take his revenge on Webber at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Agitated Webber called it a day on his Formula 1 career at the end of the 2013 season.
#4. Nelson Piquet vs Nigel Mansell
This rivalry centered around the question, who would be the Number 1 driver at Williams? Another rivalry between teammates highlights how harsh things can be in this sport.
In 1986, the two-time World Champion Nelson Piquet joined the Williams team. He would have opined at he would be the Number 1 for his team, but it wasn’t so easy.
Nigel Mansell would fight to his teeth, putting in excellent performances. He even made Piquet go off to the side-line for some time.
Piquet struck back with a fear of losing his place. He continued on playing mind games and had verbal battles, refusing to share any technical data with Mansell.
According to Frank Dernie, an ex-Williams engineer: “You had this situation where Nelson was pissed off because he thought the only reason Nigel was quick was because he had taken advantage of his hard work, and Nigel thought Nelson was a bit of a wuss because he didn’t want to race. Nelson wanted to perfect set-up and then win by driving as slowly as possible, not by racing his team-mate.”
Piquet would part ways with the team at the end of the 1987 season. The rivalry would still continue to reign supreme for years to come. Thus, making this one of the longest F1 title rivalries of all time.
#3. Niko Rosberg vs Lewis Hamilton – Most Recent F1 Title Rivalry
The rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg is the most recent one in this list. What gushes it up a notch is that this is a rivalry between once good friends turning heel.
The feud between the two Mercedes pros Hamilton and Rosberg didn’t last long. It ended with Nico Rosberg pulling down the curtain on his career just five days after his 2016 World Championship win.
Growing up as friends and acquaintances in their carting career, everything was going right until the 2014 season. The feud began in Monaco when it appeared as if Rosberg was continuously trying to hinder Hamilton in the qualifying sessions.
Things turned worse after the Austrian Grand Prix in 2015 with the infamous cap-throwing incident. Nico threw his second position cap at his teammate. According to the fans, this was a serious insult meted out to Hamilton.
The rivalry is often termed as the “Silver War” took to its final Chapter in 2016. Clashes in Austria and Spain were a matter of much despair for Mercedes fans. Adding to it was Hamilton’s dramatic hold up of his teammate at the season finale in Abu Dhabi. However, Rosberg went on to win the 2016 title, after which the rivalry slowly disintegrated.
#2. James Hunt vs Niki Lauda – Rush: Hollywood Movie Storyline
James Hunt and Niki Lauda probably are the two most popular formula 1 driver. Such was the intensity of the rivalry between the two, the famous Hollywood movie – Rush was made.
The personalities of Hunt and Lauda were poles apart and that’s what makes this F1 rivalry more intriguing.
While Hunt was the typical Playboy (quite unseen in Formula 1) who knew how to drive cars fast, Lauda was just the opposite. Lauda was a technician in his mind, who had an outrageous passion for winning the races.
It was in the 1986 season that the rivalry took off. Hunt in his McLaren and Lauda in his Ferrari would go head to head in heated battles.
Niki had suffered a horrific crash at Nurburgring that burnt him severely and handed Hunt the victory. Realizing that Hunt was going away with the Championship, Lauda returned miraculously after a couple of races. The Austrian Lauda started the final race at Fiji with a lead of three points. However, he withdrew midway in the race, enabling Hunt crown victorious.
Competitors on the track, the bad blood didn’t spill over a lot. This was evident in Hunt’s dedication to his victory to his arch-rival for his dedication and love for the sport. Hunt mentioned, “Quite honestly, I wanted to win the championship and felt I deserved it. But I also feel Niki deserved the Championship – I just wish we could have shared it”
#1. Ayrton Senna vs Alian Prost – Greatest F1 Title Rivalry Of All Time
If there is one dual in the Formula 1 racing circuit that leaves all the other ones behind when it’s this one. The rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost is by far the greatest teammate rivalries in the sport.
It is the story of the two legends going at each other for the vacant top driver’s slot at McLaren. The duo dominated all the races in 1989 and bagged home the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships. In total, the duo picked up a collected 7 World Championships and 92 race wins between them.
In the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix Senna dived down the inside of Prost, which took him out of the race. Senna won but was later disqualified handing over the title to Prost.
Come 1990, Prost dawned the Ferrari colors while Senna was still at McLaren. However, the feud continued. The pair collided again at the Japanese Grand Prix. This time at the very first corner. As a result, Senna won the title due to his lead at the top.
On the podium in Adelaide in 1993, which happened to be Prost’s last race, Senna dragged him on top and they embraced. Till today many think it was an ironic act on Senna’s behalf as he had denied a handshake after the previous race. Thus, making this rivalry the best among the F1 title rivalries of all time.
The world of racing has so far been enriched with a lot of high-profile racers. This list is a bird’s eye view of the Top 10 F1 title rivalries of all time. These racers not only rivaled each other just on the track but also outside of it. Consequently, the sport has gained popularity over time. It would be interesting to wait and observe which F1 racers of the current or the next era give this list new additions.