Formula 1, just like any other sport, is built on competition and rivalry. And, because it’s not a spec series, the competition mainly boils down to the best team building the best car, but there’s one more thing that builds a great rivalry in Formula 1.
Being the pinnacle of Motorsport, Formula 1’s had some of the most amazing rivalries in the whole of sports, and not just motorsports.
Although the turbo hybrid era has had relatively lesser amount of drama and excitement overall than any other era in Formula 1, it still has produced some pretty great battles
The rivalry between Vettel and Hamilton in 2017 and 2018 was good but short-lived, as Vettel had just made a bit too many mistakes after cracking under pressure, especially in 2018.
But, there are some rivalries that just standout amongst others, and these rivalries definitely helped shape Formula 1 into what it is today.
So, what’re the biggest rivalries in Formula 1 history?
Hamilton vs Verstappen
Starting off this list at number 5 is the most recent rivalry that the fans have witnessed. Hamilton, since 2014, had only had proper competition from Nico Rosberg for the first 3 years of the turbo hybrid era, and that changed in 2021 when Redbull made a car capable of dominating the sport.
Max Verstappen is one of the most talented drivers on the grid, but he hadn’t had a championship winning car until last year to truly show what he’s capable of doing behind the wheel, and he delivered what he was expected to.
In 2021, Max and Lewis were competing from the start, competing for wins and pole positions. Although the rivalry wasn’t really ugly when it started, it did start to become ugly during the year as there were some controversial moments that split opinions among the Formula 1 fans.
Going into the last race of the season, Hamilton and Max were equal on points, and one had to finish ahead of the other to win the title, and that person was Max. Max won the 2021 title by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. All in all, 2021 produced some really great moments that had us go all crazy
Hunt vs Lauda
This one’s a pretty old one, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. Niki Lauda is considered to be one of the greatest racing drivers in the world, and that’s not without a point. Having 3 championships under his belt, his biggest rival, by far, was James Hunt.
James and Niki had made their debut relatively at the same time, and although they didn’t have race winning machineries at their disposal during their early years, they eventually got the machinery that theg needed to win.
Niki Lauda was signed by Ferrari to drive for them from 1974 onwards,, but the rivalry between them started in 1976, when Niki Lauda was driving for Ferrari and James Hunt for McLaren.
Niki had won the 1975 championship by quite a lot of points and it seemed that he was going to win in 1976 as well, but that was until he had his infamous crash at the Nurburgring that left him battling for his life.
After the crash, he still had hopes to win the championship but he didn’t because he pulled out of the Japanese GP as he considered the conditions to be too dangerous. And, with that, James won the 1976 championship by just a single point. This, definitely, is one of the best rivalries in F1 history.
Mika vs Michael
What does it mean when Michael Schumacher, one of the best drivers to race in F1, calls you the only driver that he fears? That’s what Mika Hakkinen experienced while competing alongside Michael Schumacher.
Michael and Mika had known each other since their karting days, and they had gotten into F1 in the same year as well, but for Mika, it wasn’t until 1998 that he got a car that could compete for wins and championships.
Michael had won the 1994 and 1995 championships with Benetton, and when he went to Ferrari, he didn’t really get the machine that could win a championship until 1999.
Over those years, there were a lot of GPs when Mika and Michael had a lot of competition between them, and one of the examples is the 2000 Japanese GP qualifying session.
This is a rivalry that can never be forgotten, as Michael and Mika literally pushed each other to the limit.
Nico vs Lewis
These two were once best friends. Sounds surprising? It does to everyone who has witnessed their rivalry as teammates during 2014-2016.
Their rivalry hasn’t gotten toxic until 2015. They were teammates for 4 years, and for the first 2 years, they were pretty friendly with each other.
But, everything changed in 2015. That’s when their rivalry was getting at it’s boiling point. Since 2014, they were competing for wins and pole positions. Things had gotten ugly between them during a number a races.
With Lewis winning the first 2 championships of the turbo hybrid era, Nico was feeling the pressure, and wanted to beat his old friend. And, he did so in 2016. And, soon after beating his teammate, Nico retired from the sport, as he had achieved his life long goal of becoming a champion, just like his father did in 1982.
Prost vs Senna
Arguably the biggest rivalry in Formula 1 history, the rivalry between Senna and Prost got on it’s way when they both began the 1988 season as each other’s teammate.
Senna made his GP debut in 1984 and Alain in 1980, but it wasn’t until 1988 that the two titans really came together. Alain had been driving for McLaren since 1984 and Senna signed with McLaren to drive them from 1988 onwards, and when the two started their season, they were already fighting for supremacy.
McLaren had built a monster of a car in 1988 that won 15 out of 16 races that year, and with that, 8 of them were for Senna, and this made him the 1988 champion.
Things were already starting to get a bit tensed within the team as each of the two drivers wanted to be the superior one.
In 1989, they both collided in Japan which handed over the title to Alain, and then in 1990, they collided once again, but this time, Senna came on top.
Their battle was filled with controversy, but in the end, it made out for the most legendary rivalry in Formula 1 history.