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Best F1 Rivalries | Top 5 greatest rivalries in the Formula 1

Formula 1 is defined by its rivalries as much as it is by the tech and the excitement, F1 has seen its fair share of iconic rivalries. Here we list five such greatest formula 1 rivalries in the sport.

Abhranil Roy
Last updated: 22.12.2020
Best Formula 1 Rivalries | Sports Social Blog

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A sport defined by its rivalries as much as it is by the tech and the excitement, Formula One has seen its fair share of iconic rivalries. These are men who have led the sport ahead, developed cult fan bases and etched their names in history by dint of their skill, perseverance and sheer ability.


Whether it be team bosses tearing their hair out over feuding team-mates, elite drivers fighting for the title, or even a healthy rivalry built on respect, Formula 1 has seen it all. Here is our list of 5 of the greatest rivalries in the sport:



5. Sebastian Vettel vs Fernando Alonso:


A Formula 1 rivalry not dominated by on-track clashes, but instead the context of their achievements. Basically, Vettel, in essence, achieved what Alonso had targeted for himself.

After making the move to Ferrari ahead of the 2010 season, Alonso was looking to finally build on the two World Championships he had won in 2005 and 2006, but 2010 marked the start of Red Bull’s dominance with Vettel.

Try as he might, Alonso just didn’t have the machinery to compete with Vettel from 2010-13. His best chance came and went at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, not that Vitaly Petrov feels any sympathy for holding Alonso up and costing him a shot at the 2010 crown.

Alonso would come extremely close again in 2012, and even post-2013 when neither driver has enjoyed a car that could end the dominance of Mercedes, the times where Vettel and Alonso have battled on-track has always carried a special feel.

Even though Alonso says differently, Vettel said in a media session at the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix that he got the feeling that the Spaniard never really liked him.


4. Mika Hakkinen vs Michael Schumacher:


There's a number of worthy rivalries we could have included with Michael Schumacher on this list - Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso and Jacques Villeneuve to name a few - however it's his intense rivalry with the 'Flying Finn' that stands out. It's certainly not the most bitter rivalry on our list, in fact, the pair appeared to relish the competitive bond they had; but the skill each driver possessed forced both to consistently up their game. They had an evident mutual respect for each other, sharing their points of view on their intense battles whilst in the paddock, and consoling each other in difficult moments.


This did not make their battles any less interesting to watch, they would ferociously push each other to the limit as they sought to emerge victorious - as shown by their epic Suzuka qualifying showdown, or the “Francorchamps duel”. The pair delivered truly unforgettable moments to fans.



3. James Hunt vs Niki Lauda:


How could this rivalry over the 1976 title possibly not be included? After all, it inspired the Hollywood bigwigs to bring us the film ‘Rush’.

Hunt, Formula 1’s resident playboy, was stripped of his win at Silverstone for driving on an access road to return to the pits, with the victory handed to Lauda, before Niki Lauda suffered life-threatening burns in an accident at the Nurburgring.

Incredibly Lauda was away for only two races and returned at the Italian Grand Prix.

Sadly the Austrian racer would withdraw from the final race of the season in Fuji due to safety fears with the conditions hazardous, allowing Hunt to take the title by one point.

It was a thrilling story of the party boy Hunt versus the racing machine Lauda – no wonder ‘Rush’ was a box office success.


2. Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg:


Another story of two top drivers finding themselves in a car totally dominant over the rest - Rosberg had been at Mercedes from the start since they returned in 2010, scoring their first win back in Formula 1 at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix.

Hamilton arrived in 2013, and came the following year, the Silver Arrows’ dominance arrived with the start of the turbo-hybrid era.

They were very good friends in the early years of their careers, but this faded away thanks to several major incidents. The duo collided in the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, an incident that Hamilton put full blame on Rosberg for.

The following year Rosberg would throw back the podium cap that Hamilton handed to him in Austin after Hamilton had secured the 2015 Drivers’ Championship.

And in 2016 the pair would come to blows in Spain and Austria, before Hamilton deliberately held Rosberg up at the 2016 season-finale in Abu Dhabi in an attempt to allow those behind to overtake the German and save his championship. That didn’t happen and Rosberg would retire as champion soon after while Hamilton has now won 7 World Championship titles.


1. Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost:

The greatest of them all - Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost's bitter rivalry has also been cast to film in the documentary 'Senna'. Arch rivals throughout their careers, similar to Hunt and Lauda the pair would share contrasting characteristics. Senna was fuelled by his passion for the sport, believing that God was constantly looking over him and would guide him to victory. Prost on the other hand was given the nickname 'The Professor' for consistently being calculated in his performances, only achieving the points he needed to ensure he would win the title.


The pair would famously clash at the 1989 Suzuka. While Prost retired on the spot and headed straight to the adjudicator's office, Senna pressed on to seemingly take victory. However post-race Senna was disqualified for causing the collision, handing Prost the title. Senna publicly slated the Frenchman for winning the championship through his 'political affiliations' and threatened to quit the sport. Thankfully for fans he didn't, and with Prost moving to Ferrari for the following season, the intense rivalry continued. 1990 saw a carbon copy of the year before, with the title showdown being decided in Japan. But this time Senna wasn't taking any chances, he only needed to beat Prost to claim the title, so didn't even wait till the end of the first corner...perhaps the sports most controversial ending to a championship - Senna finally felt he had redemption for the year before.


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