In the late 1970s, the competition between Ferrari and McLaren was one of the most intense in Formula One. With the Unites States’ Brawn GP team in tow, the two teams battled for the world championship for much of the decade, usually finding themselves on the edge of a collision. Despite their frequent brushes, their rivalry was a much more peaceful affair compared to that of Ferrari and McLaren’s later battle.
The rivalry between Ferrari and McLaren is one of the most iconic in the history of Formula 1, and it has been going on since the 50s when they first competed in the very first race. To the casual fan, Ferrari and McLaren are the most iconic of any F1 team, but they are not the only legendary teams in F1.
For many, the rivalry between Ferrari and McLaren is the most famous of all time. The sport’s first ever world champions, the Scuderia even fought each other to control the sport for the best part of a decade.. Read more about rivalry meaning and let us know what you think.
Formula One is one of the few sports in which the stakes are as high as they are in Formula One. Sporting success is one thing, but when the competition has the potential to put you in the hospital or worse, the events on the track take on a whole new meaning.
It’s no wonder, therefore, that the British Grand Prix collision between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton sparked controversy. Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, was one of the most frank in his criticisms, saying Hamilton had undertaken a “desperate” and “amateur” maneuver that resulted in a “hollow win” after leaving Verstappen in hospital.
Thankfully, the Red Bull driver was given the all-clear and discharged from the hospital later that evening, enabling attention to shift to how the event could affect the championship race in the future.
But Hamilton and Verstappen aren’t the first championship contenders to clash on the track.
The wreckage of high-profile accidents litters F1’s history, some of which remain among the sport’s most unforgettable events.
-Brawn wishes for an end to accidents, but Ecclestone blames Hamilton.
Hill vs. Schumacher at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix
When the Formula One circus arrived in Australia for the last round of the 1994 season, Benetton’s Michael Schumacher was defending a one-point lead over Williams’ Damon Hill in the drivers’ standings. Schumacher, who had been leading the race but had been under pressure from Hill in the early circuits, went wide on lap 36 and collided with a concrete barrier, causing damage to his vehicle.
Hill, ignorant of the damage to the Benetton ahead of him, tried to overtake on the inside of the following curve, but Schumacher swung around on him and eliminated both cars from the race.
Despite the fact that the stewards took no punishment, the collision raised concerns since it gave Schumacher the championship. Following the incident, Schumacher waited near the crash barriers to ensure that his opponent did not take the lead on the following lap.
Hill subsequently stated, “Years later, I said: “Michael stands out from the rest of the Formula One drivers for two reasons: his raw skill and his demeanor. The former has my adoration, while the latter makes me uneasy.”
Damon Hill speaks with the press after colliding with Michael Schumacher in 1994. ALLSPORT/Mike Hewitt
1987 Belgian Grand Prix: Mansell vs. Senna
After a major accident involving Philippe Streiff and Jonathan Palmer, the 1987 Belgian Grand Prix had to be restarted, but it was a later collision between Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna that was the primary talking point after the race.
At the restart, Senna grabbed the lead, but Mansell was faster and tried to overtake on the first lap around the outside of the Fagnes chicane. The two raced towards the turn side by side, but soon ran out of asphalt, collided, and spun off at the same time.
Senna’s Lotus landed in the gravel and he was forced to retire on the spot, while Mansell battled on for another 17 laps until retiring with damage. Mansell dashed towards the Lotus garage as soon as he got out of his vehicle, grabbing Senna by the scruff of his overalls and hanging him a few inches off the ground.
“The message he was trying to send was clear,” veteran F1 writer Alan Henry subsequently wrote.
1989 Japanese Grand Prix: Senna vs. Prost
The 1989 Japanese Grand Prix accident between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna was one of the most contentious of all time, and is often included in F1 crash compilations.
On lap 46 at Suzuka, the McLaren teammates collided at the last chicane as Senna attempted to pass Prost, who had a 16-point lead at the time. Prost went in on his teammate, and the two got their wheels tangled before coming to a stop in a run-off area.
“I know everyone believes that was on purpose,” Prost subsequently said. “But what I say is that I did not open the door, and that’s it… he attempted to pass, and the manner he did it was difficult for me, since he was speeding into the braking area considerably faster than normal.”
“He was so far behind as we approached the chicane. It’s hard to assess when a man is 20 meters behind you in your mirrors, and I didn’t even realize he was attempting to pass me. ‘There’s no way I’m going to leave him even a one-metre space,’ I thought at the same moment. ‘There’s no way.’ I let off of the throttle, slowed down, and turned in.”
Senna managed to restart his vehicle and proceed down the escape lane with the assistance of the marshals while Prost got out of his McLaren. He went on to win the race, but after a lengthy discussion with FISA authorities, he was disqualified for missing the chicane.
Prost was declared world champion as a result of the judgment, but Senna, enraged by the verdict, had to wait a year to exact his vengeance.
1990 Japanese Grand Prix: Senna vs. Prost
When Senna arrived at Suzuka in 1990, the events of the previous year were still fresh in his memory, and his emotions were pushed to breaking point by a decision to retain his pole position grid spot on the filthy side of the circuit.
He accused French FISA president Jean-Marie Balestre for rigging the championship a year before, and he felt the same way when his request to shift pole position to the opposite side of the grid was refused.
When the lights went down, Prost made a better getaway, and he expressed his anger by slamming into the Ferrari at the first turn, just as he anticipated. The two drivers were eliminated from the race on the spot, resulting in Senna being crowned world champion for the second time.
Senna recounted his pre-race thoughts a year later: “I said to myself, ‘OK, you try to work cleanly and perform the job correctly and then you get f——- by dumb people.’ Okay, if Prost beats me off the line tomorrow, I’ll go for it at the first corner, and he best not turn in because he won’t make it.’
“And it simply occurred,” says the narrator.
On the first lap of the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, Ayrton Senna sets up his move on Alain Prost. Getty Images/Paul-Henri Cahier
The 2014 Belgian Grand Prix pitted Rosberg against Hamilton.
It became clear quite quickly at the start of the 2014 season that the drivers’ championship would be a two-horse race between Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. By the time the championship reached the 12th round of the season in Belgium, the battle was finely poised with Rosberg leading Hamilton by 11 points and everything still to play for.
However, emotions in the Mercedes camp were high after Hamilton’s refusal to move over for his teammate at the previous round in Hungary, despite the fact that the two drivers were on opposing strategies. In Spa, Rosberg earned some pleasure by qualifying first, but Hamilton took the lead on the first lap, putting his partner back on the back foot once again.
On the second lap, Rosberg battled back before making an improbable move at Les Combes, a medium-speed chicane at the end of the lengthy Kemmel Straight. The German left his car’s nose on the inside of his teammate’s, and as the chicane turned back, Rosberg’s front wing ruptured Hamilton’s left rear tyre, injuring Hamilton’s car’s floor and forcing him to withdraw.
Rosberg went on to finish second behind Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, increasing his championship lead, but the lap two accident took on a new dimension when it was revealed in a post-race team briefing that Rosberg had deliberately instigated the collision.
“It seemed to me to be very obvious, but we just had a discussion about it, and he essentially admitted he did it on purpose,” Hamilton told the press later that evening. “He said he did it on purpose and that he could have prevented it.”
“He essentially stated, ‘I did it to make a point,’ therefore he did it to show a point.” You don’t have to take my word for it; just ask Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team chief], Paddy [Lowe, technical director], and the rest of the people who aren’t pleased with him.
“When I was listening to the meeting, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. You should inquire as to what point he was attempting to make.”
Rosberg, who was addressing to the media at the same time as Hamilton, insisted that the incident was just a racing mishap.
“I’ve seen it, and I’m not going to tell what it is for sure,” Rosberg said. “It was assessed as a racing incident by the officials, and that’s the only way to characterize it.”
For the incident, Rosberg received an internal punishment, while Hamilton went on to win the following five races in a row, securing his second title and the first of his six titles with Mercedes.
The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix pits Rosberg against Hamilton.
Getty Images/Clive Mason
If Mercedes’ team management was irritated after the Belgian Grand Prix in 2014, they were enraged after the Spanish Grand Prix in 2016. The championship race was obviously going to be a direct fight between Rosberg and Hamilton, and the two came to blows on the track once again.
Hamilton came at the Circuit de Catalunya 43 points behind Rosberg in the championship standings after a string of mechanical problems in the first four races. He qualified on pole, but a sloppy start gave Rosberg the lead into the first turn on a track where overtaking is notoriously tough.
Rosberg, on the other hand, had begun the race with the incorrect engine setting, and when he passed through Turn 3, the hybrid system began collecting energy rather than delivering it. On the run down to Turn 4, Hamilton gained a 17 km/h speed advantage, giving him the opportunity to hurl his Mercedes up the inside and reclaim the lead. Rosberg realized his setting mistake as he did so and moved across to cover Hamilton’s move. But Hamilton was in no mood to back down at that moment, and the two crashed on the entrance to Turn 4, resulting in a mound of shattered carbon fibre in the gravel trap.
Although the stewards ruled the collision a racing incident, Mercedes’ non-executive chairman Niki Lauda blamed Hamilton when the two drivers were called to the team’s technical trucks to explain themselves.
“The main question was, who was to blame?” Lauda remarked. “For me, it was obvious because Lewis was driving too fast to the right, hitting the grass, not being able to control his vehicle, and then hitting him off.”
“I said if I have to choose between the two it’s more Lewis’ fault than Nico’s fault. And Lewis did not appreciate that, because he was of a different opinion. He said, ‘Why do you criticize me?’ I said, ‘Excuse me. I cannot accept that you guys crash and then we have nothing and nobody’s fault. For me it has to be somebody’s fault.’ And then Lewis really got upset.
“‘Yes, it was your part as well, you went to the interior,’ Nico replied. ‘Why didn’t you make more room?’ ‘Why should I, I was running the race,’ he replied.”
Lauda said he met with Hamilton again on the Spanish island of Ibiza to go through the event one-on-one, while Mercedes published a tougher set of driving regulations. Later, Lauda stated that the regulations came with the danger of a driver’s contract being terminated if he did not behave in the team’s best interests.
“We put certain rules in place, and we told them that pushing each other off the track was unacceptable for Mercedes, and that if one of you guys is going to win [the race], you can’t force each other off.”
“We put certain regulations in place that say you can’t [do that] and you have to pay a penalty if you do it again, or we’ll consider terminating your contract, since we’re a team here and can’t damage each other. This was the problem. Toto came up with some reasonable regulations, and we were able to resume our peaceful existence. We battled hard, and the number of accidents between them decreased.”
The 1997 European Grand Prix pitted Schumacher against Villeneuve.
Michael Schumacher had a chance to win Ferrari’s first championship since 1979 at the 1997 season’s final round. He went into the last race with a one-point lead, like he did in 1994, and he was ready to protect it at any costs.
Jacques Villeneuve of Williams was his championship rival this time, and on lap 47, the Canadian tried to overtake on the inside of the Dry Sac turn. In a maneuver reminiscent of Hill’s three years before, Schumacher turned in on him, damaging his Ferrari’s suspension but causing minimal damage to the Williams.
“The vehicle felt extremely weird,” Villeneuve remarked after finishing third and winning the championship. “The blow was powerful. It wasn’t a little matter.”
The FIA subsequently disqualified Schumacher from the title as a result of the incident.
The 1998 Belgian Grand Prix pitted Schumacher against Coulthard.
On the 24th lap of a rainy race at Spa-Francorchamps, race leader Michael Schumacher approached to lap the recovering David Coulthard. Coulthard’s McLaren teammate Mika Hakkinen, who was already out of the race, was Schumacher’s championship contender, and Ferrari team manager Jean Todt had gone down to McLaren to urge that Coulthard move out of the way.
The McLaren driver lifted to let the Ferrari to pass, but did so while staying on the racing line, and Schumacher, blinded by the spray, crashed into Coulthard’s rear. After returning to the pits, Schumacher rushed over to the McLaren garage, surrounded by television cameras, and had to be held as he yelled at Coulthard, “Are you trying to f——— murder me?”
1977 Canadian Grand Prix – Hunt vs. Mass
It’s one thing to be taken out by a backmarker, but it’s quite another when the backmarker is a colleague. During the 1977 Canadian Grand Prix, James Hunt was enraged by an incident involving fellow McLaren driver Jochen Mass, and he took his rage out on an unsuspecting marshal.
When the two came up to lap Mass, Hunt and Mario Andretti were in in a close fight for the lead of the race. Hunt collided with his McLaren teammate on the inside as he tried to overtake him on the inside at 100 mph, knocking him out of the race on the spot.
Hunt said after the race, “I was right up his chuff.” “I was obliged to turn left… then he abruptly shifted to the left, slammed the brakes, and waved me through on the right. But I was committed, and there was no way I could escape him… I smacked him in the face straight away.”
Hunt stood on the side of the track, furiously shaking his fist at Mass, after clambering out of his vehicle. When a marshal attempted to remove Hunt from the ring, the 1976 world champion countered with a sharp right hook that knocked the marshal out cold. Hunt apologized to the marshal right afterwards, but he was fined $750 for stepping on the track and $2000 for beating the official later.
Hill vs. Bandini in the Mexican Grand Prix of 1964
At the 1964 Mexican Grand Prix, Lorenzo Bandini collides with Graham Hill. Getty Images/Bernard Cahier
Graham Hill led Ferrari’s John Surtees by five points in the driver’s standings and Lotus’ Jim Clark by nine points heading into the last round of the 1964 world championship in Mexico City. If Surtees won, a top two finish would earn him the championship, but third would suffice if Clark, who started from pole, won.
Hill’s race got off to a bad start when the elastic on his goggles snapped before the start, and the time it took to fix them dropped him to 10th position. By lap 12, he had clawed his way back to third, but Lorenzo Bandini was putting him under pressure, diving up the inside of the BRM on numerous times but failing to overtake, provoking some fist waving from the normally calm Briton.
Bandini made an even more opportunistic move on lap 31, and the two collided, spinning the BRM into the barrier. Both drivers were able to continue the race, but Hill’s engine was limited by a bent exhaust, forcing him to make a lengthy pit stop for repairs, thus ending his championship hopes.
Given that Bandini’s Ferrari teammate Surtees won the race, there were some suspicions of foul play after the race, but BRM team manager Louis Stanley was having none of it.
He said, “After the race allegations were thrown about.” “Some speculated that Bandini purposefully wrecked the BRM as part of Ferrari’s strategy. I hesitated to say yes.
“Bandini was fiery and impetuous by nature, a brave driver who never used dubious methods… Dragoni, Ferrari’s team manager, Forghieri, head engineer, and Bandini all came to the pit and apologized before we left the track. Bandini was inconsolably upset. Everyone exchanged handshakes. In BRM’s opinion, the event had come to a conclusion.”
2010 Turkish Grand Prix: Webber vs. Vettel
After colliding with Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire from the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix. Getty Images/Mark Thompson
Following the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix, there were no handshakes at Red Bull since the squad was divided down the middle due to a collision between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Vettel came alongside Webber on the inside of Turn 12 on lap 41, but as they approached the braking zone, he slid back across his teammate’s path. Both cars were headed towards the run-off area after a cloud of tyre smoke, with Vettel’s vehicle fatally injured.
Webber said, “Seb had a peak speed advantage and he went down the inside.” “We were standing side by side when he abruptly moved to the right, causing us to collide. It everything occurred in a flash.”
Vettel said, ” “I’m not in the best of spirits. It was obvious from the photos that I had the interior. I was ahead and simply coming down to concentrate on the braking spot, and as you can see, we collided, and he collided with my right rear wheel, and I took off.”
The accident lost Red Bull a near-certain one-two finish, but it had far-reaching repercussions, as it caused a schism between the two garage sides that lasted until Webber’s departure from the team in 2013. In the immediate aftermath, Red Bull attempted to cover up the fractures with a staged picture of the two drivers shrugging off the incident, but the hostility was palpable as they continued to battle for the championship until the last round in Abu Dhabi, when Vettel came from behind in the standings to win.
Webber was asked whether the drivers put their differences aside following the incident in a recent interview with Channel 4 regarding the friendship.
“Absolutely not,” says the narrator. “Not a chance,” Webber said. “We consistently overstepped our professional bounds, and I lost a lot of faith in him in that regard.”
“We’re very close now; we’ve exchanged texts, so it’s gone; I’ve had enough bottles of red to let that go.” But, in terms of what was going on at the time, if he got food poisoning, and I’m not sure who put something in his food, it was a headache for the team because we were chasing a world championship in 2010 and we were both in the same team against Lewis and Fernando [Alonso], four of us at the last race, and it was an absolute headache for this team.
“We had a lot of psychologically difficult times, and the squad began to split, so [team leader] Christian [Horner] had a hard time managing that.”
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