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4 most legendary rivalries in F1 history


Formula 1 has witnessed some of sports' most absorbing battles throughout the years, featuring duels between both respectful adversaries and, more commonly, hated foes.

Plenty of paint has been swapped, and numerous titles decided amid dramatic circumstances. But which skirmish has best withstood the test of time? Here, we review the most epic rivalries in F1 history.

Michael Schumacher vs. Mika Hakkinen

Michael Schumacher enjoyed many enthralling tussles during his iconic Formula 1 career - such is the life of a seven-time champion - duking it out with the likes of Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso, and Jacques Villeneuve.

But his wheel-to-wheel battles with Mika Hakkinen, which went all the way back to their days in F3, left an indelible mark on the sport. The rivalry also produced arguably the greatest overtake in F1 history when the Finn's daring move at Spa saw him pass Schumacher to win the Belgian Grand Prix in 2000.


It's no surprise, then, that the ultra-competitive German deemed the "Flying Finn" to be his most worthy adversary, saying in 2013: "The most respected guy in all those years was Mika Hakkinen. Great fights but (a) stable, private relationship."

Indeed, this was a rivalry built on mutual respect. They pushed one another to the limit, consistently upping their game in the process. Ferocious, but fair.

Lewis Hamilton vs. Nico Rosberg

What's more gripping than a heated Formula 1 rivalry? A heated Formula 1 rivalry between two teammates.

The battle between Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg didn't have the longevity of some others in the sport's celebrated lore - the latter saw to that when he abruptly announced his retirement five days after winning the world championship in 2016 - but its bitterness more than compensated for its brevity.


Longtime friends as youngsters climbing the motor racing ranks, their relationship quickly began to sour in 2014, when Rosberg appeared to deliberately impede his pacey teammate during qualifying in Monaco. Continued on-track squabbles - which gave way to the infamous cap-throwing incident in 2015 - saw their once jovial bond disintegrate further before the German beat the Briton to the title in 2016 and then promptly hung up his helmet.

The "Silver War" has since extended beyond the track thanks to Rosberg's punditry, but in the wake of Hamilton claiming his sixth F1 crown this year, the frostiness has seemingly started to thaw.

Perhaps time really does heal all wounds?

Niki Lauda vs. James Hunt

The 1976 season is forever immortalized in the annals of Formula 1.

The championship battle between gregarious playboy James Hunt and calculated competitor Niki Lauda ebbed and flowed all year, with the McLaren racer confident he could dethrone the Ferrari star.

Lauda was hospitalized midseason after a horrific crash at Nurburgring left him with severe burns, but after watching Hunt chip away at the championship lead during his absence, the late Austrian made a stunning comeback and went into the final race at the Fuji Speedway nursing a three-point lead.

PA Images Archive / PA Images / Getty

In one final dramatic twist, Lauda withdrew from the race on the second lap amid hazardous, torrential conditions. Hunt would finish third, racking up just enough points to leapfrog his good friend for the lone F1 title of his career.

"Quite honestly, I wanted to win the championship and felt I deserved it," Hunt said of his triumph. "But I also feel Niki deserved the championship - I just wish we could have shared it."

Ayrton Senna vs. Alain Prost

The pinnacle of Formula 1 duels.

Ayrton Senna, the precociously talented maverick. Alain Prost, so efficient on the track that he was dubbed "The Professor." They were the perfect foil for one another; their legendary rivalry was made for the silver screen.

After combining to win 15 of 16 races as teammates with McLaren in 1988 - when Senna took home his first of three drivers' titles - this famous clash truly took flight the following season in Japan. A collision between the two at Suzuka ended Prost's race, while Senna managed to continue, ultimately crossing the finish line first. But his subsequent disqualification handed the title to the Frenchman. Senna, who threatened to call it quits over the decision, was fuming, accusing Prost of benefitting from the "politics" of F1.

And then, incredibly, they provided an encore in 1990.

Jean-Marc LOUBAT / Gamma-Rapho / Getty

With Prost now driving for Ferrari, the title was once again hanging in the balance in Japan. Senna didn't wait until the chicane this time around, hurtling into his adversary at the very first corner, knocking them both out and ensuring that he would be crowned world champion.

Prost refused to ever partner with Senna again.

The acrimony began to subside after Prost's retirement in 1993, which preceded Senna's untimely death at Imola the following year.

"I don't keep the bad moments or any bad souvenirs in my mind about him," Prost would later explain. "I keep the last six months (of his life) in mind. That's when I knew Ayrton much more than ever before."

Honorable mentions: Sebastian Vettel vs. Mark Webber, Nigel Mansell vs. Nelson Pique

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