Top five F1 title rivalries as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen face off

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Formula 1 has regained its mojo as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton launch a title challenge for the ages.

One of the pair was victorious in 11 of the 14 races, while Hamilton cut Verstappen to significantly eliminate the Dutchman from the British Grand Prix and Verstappen returned the favor to Monza last weekend as his Red Bull landed dramatically on Hamilton’s Mercedes after aggressively bouncing off the sidewalk.

As a result, Verstappen retained their narrow three-point championship lead over Hamilton and added another chapter to their growing rivalry.

The fight for the 2021 World Championship will likely go down in Formula 1 lore as one of the greatest of all time, but where does it stand compared to some of the most explosive rivalries in history? Sport ?



Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen came out of the Italian Grand Prix last weekend, the Dutchman being given a penalty of three grid places.

James Hunt vs. Niki Lauda

Contrary to popular belief, James Hunt and Niki Lauda loved each other off the track, but once got into a fight behind the wheel.

Their rivalry became particularly dramatic in 1976 when Hunt joined McLaren, putting him in a car competitive enough to face Lauda’s Ferrari which had secured the Austrian his first world title the year before.

Hunt struggled early in the campaign, with mechanical issues dooming him to four retirements in the first six races while Lauda won four and finished second twice. At the Spanish Grand Prix – the fourth race of the season – Hunt was disqualified for driving a car deemed to be 1.8cm too wide. The Englishman appealed and was later reinstated as the winner, but the decision set the tone for a volatile and acrimonious season.



James Hunt (L) and Niki Lauda at the 1976 British Grand Prix, where the Briton's victory was later denied
James Hunt (L) and Niki Lauda at the 1976 British Grand Prix, where the Briton’s victory was later denied

Drama followed at the British Grand Prix, when Hunt claimed victory only to have their victory overturned after a complaint from Ferrari about an incident between Lauda and Hunt on the first lap that resulted in the race being restarted. The result seemed to give Lauda the title ahead of the German Grand Prix.

At the Nürburgring, Lauda suffered a horrific and almost fatal accident. He left permanent scars from burns and severely damaged lungs, while Hunt claimed victory in the restarted race.

With Lauda seemingly out of the question, it looked like Hunt would lead easily to the title, but the Austrian heroically recovered and was back behind the wheel of his Ferrari six weeks later.

At the Japanese Grand Prix – the last race of the season – Lauda retired early as he was unable to blink due to burns to his face from his accident. His retirement meant Hunt had to finish fourth or better to win his first title, and he would finish considerably third.

Their legendary rivalry will be forever immortalized in the 2013 move To rush, one of the great racing films of recent times.

Ayrton Senna vs. Alain Prost

Is Ayrton Senna vs. Alain Prost the greatest rivalry in F1 history? It is difficult to argue against.

No other head-to-head rivalry holds more world titles as the duo won seven between 1985 and 1993 – and bitter enemies clashed as teammates at McLaren and as enemies after Prost moved to Ferrari. .



Alain Prost (No.2) controversially collided with teammate Ayrton Senna (No.1) at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix
Alain Prost (No.2) controversially collided with teammate Ayrton Senna (No.1) at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix

The first chapter of their rivalry was set at the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, when dangerous conditions meant eight of the 20 starters finished. As Senna stepped onto the grid in his underprivileged Toleman, Prost urged the stewards to abandon the race due to the dangerous weather conditions.

Officials decided to report the event as Senna passed Prost on the line with the unconscious Brazilian as he claimed his first F1 victory – but the results were taken from the previous round, ensuring the Frenchman won victory.

Things got particularly explosive after the two became teammates in 1988. The couple came into contact with each other towards the end of the Japanese Grand Prix – the penultimate race of the 1989 campaign – with Prost was forced to retire as Senna won, keeping his title hopes slim. living. However, Senna was disqualified for cutting the chicane and Prost won his third championship.

Senna took his revenge the following season, securing a second world title by hitting Prost at the first corner of the Suzuka race – a move the Brazilian seemed to suggest was a deliberate rematch for the previous year.

After Prost moved to Williams, he won his fourth championship in 1993 with Senna finishing second in the standings, the fifth time the pair had held the top two spots. The Frenchman retired after that season and the two became friends before Senna passed away at Imola in 1994.

What do you think is the best rivalry in Formula 1? Let us know in the comments section.

Mika Hakkinen vs. Michael Schumacher

This rivalry couldn’t be further from the Senna-Prost battle, as Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher truly respected each other.

Before the last two races of the 1998 season at the points level, Hakkinen triumphed in Luxembourg and Japan to win a first world championship. The Flying Finn managed to retain their title the following season as Schumacher broke his leg at Silverstone after brake failure and was out for 98 days.



Michael Schumacher (R) won the world championship with a victory at Suzuka in 2000, and congratulated Mika Hakkinen on the podium
Michael Schumacher (R) won the world championship with a victory at Suzuka in 2000, and congratulated Mika Hakkinen on the podium

Their rivalry returned in 2000, with the momentum in the title race swapping between the two as Schumacher won the first three races to retire four times in the next five Grand Prix to give Hakkinen a seven-point lead with four races to go.

The German would go on to win the remaining four races, sealing a third world championship for the racing legend.

Lewis Hamilton vs. Fernando Alonso

One racing season was enough to secure a place in F1 history for the rivalry between two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and McLaren rookie Hamilton.

Hamilton arrived at McLaren in 2007 and was later joined by Alonso, the reigning world champion, after the Spaniard decided to leave Renault. Alonso assumed he would be the number one driver on the team, and Hamilton did not get the memo.

Hamilton, then 22, immediately matched Alonso’s speed in his new car to finish on the podium in each of the first nine races of the season. With the Briton leading the championship, the icy relationship deteriorated as neither gave way to the other.



Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton - two drivers considered to be among the best in motorsport history - had a difficult year as teammates in 2007
Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton – two drivers considered to be among the best in motorsport history – had a difficult year as teammates in 2007

It came to a head at the Hungarian Grand Prix as Alonso deliberately blocked his teammate in the pit lane after Hamilton ignored the team’s orders. Alonso was furious and threatened to deliver questionable emails to the FIA ​​if McLaren refused to side with the rookie.

The feud led to the “spygate” scandal, where McLaren illegally took technical information from Ferrari – the future 2007 champions – which saw the team fined $ 100 million and kicked out of the constructors’ championship this year. -the.

The respect between Hamilton and Alonso seems to have replaced animosity over time, although the two aren’t exactly best friends.

Lewis Hamilton vs. Nico Rosberg

It’s tough to hold all of Hamilton’s records while being a seven-time world champion and not being embroiled in dramatic rivalries, and the squad battle between the Briton and former friend turned foe Nico Rosberg is certainly worthy of reaching the big screen à la Hunt-Lauda.

The two grew up together and were best friends during the junior go-kart era, and they were thrilled to be teammates at Mercedes when Hamilton confirmed his departure from McLaren in 2013.



Although he finished second behind Lewis Hamilton in the final race, Nico Rosberg won his first world title - and retired days later
Although he finished second behind Lewis Hamilton in the final race, Nico Rosberg won his first world title – and retired days later



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However, Mercedes’ overwhelming dominance in the era of the new V6 hybrid engine led to three years of fierce battles, and their relationship deteriorated due to the toxic atmosphere.

Hamilton triumphed in 2014 and 2015, but it all culminated in 2016. The two competed regularly, even facing each other at the Spanish Grand Prix – won by a certain Verstappen. After Rosberg emerged victorious, the German dramatically announced his retirement from the sport just days after the final race in Abu Dhabi, citing the exhaustion and strain of his rivalry with Hamilton as the reason for his sudden decision.

Rosberg and Hamilton now own teams in the Extreme E series, so it looks like their rivalry isn’t quite over yet.


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