No one can deny the fact that showmanship is the most critical aspect of the Formula One Grand Prix, and this is even more evident when one considers the direction the championship is taking at the hands of the American company Liberty Media, which is purging it of its European essence to give it a more laid-back and show-oriented persona, particularly in the United States.
On the other hand, it has been consistently ensured by the drivers who compete on the circuits, who perform incredible stunts behind the wheel in the form of memorable duels or overtaking one another. And without the rivalries forged throughout its history, this sport would be nothing.
As a result, in this issue of Motorbli, we will discuss the top seven drivers who have competed in Formula One throughout the sport’s more than seven decades of existence.
After providing some background information on the subject matter discussed in the following lines, it is time to get down to business and talk about the rivalries that have won over fans in the most prestigious category of motorsport.
Throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s, the Brazilian and the Frenchman engaged in a series of duels that were unlike anything that had ever been seen.
They were both perfect, each in their register: Senna was more aggressive and had a special gift for the rain. At the same time, Prost avoided conflict on the track by driving elegantly and trying to avoid collisions as much as possible.
They worked together at McLaren and shared a pit box during that time; therefore, it is possible that the beginning of their rivalry dates back to 1988 when Senna signed with the British team, where Prost was already employed.
In contrast to the norm in recent times, he did not exercise his right to veto it; on the contrary, he requested that he sign it.
They were both very competitive, which ultimately led to a conflict within the team.
There was a championship outcome before the conclusion of this duo that every fan who lived through it will remember forever.
At the penultimate round of the world championship in 1989, held in Suzuka, Prost was leading with a slight advantage over Senna.
During an all-or-nothing chase, the Brazilian driver Senna collided with the Frenchman Prost as he attempted to pass Prost on the inside of the chicane that precedes the finish straight.
Prost went on to win the world championship. Senna finished second. Senna was able to finish the race and actually won it, but he was disqualified because he illegally rejoined the track after leaving it. Prost was forced to pull out of the competition.
Because he was unhappy with his role in the team, Prost decided to switch from McLaren to Ferrari the following season.
Despite this, there was yet another commotion between the two, which, interestingly enough, took place on the same stage.
Senna was defending pole position, even though he had to start on the dirty side of the circuit.
He took“revenge” for what had happened the previous year by closing the door on Prost as he attempted to pass him so that it would not happen.
Consequently, both drivers were eliminated from contention, and Senna emerged victorious.
Despite the fact that Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were only teammates together for one year at McLaren, the fact remains that the duo of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso McLaren again made history.
This is true even though neither driver ever lost their way with the other.
The Spaniard entered the competition as the new championship leader after winning his previous titles with Renault.
His victories came in the years before. The British driver entered Formula One after claiming victory in the GP2 World Championship, which serves as a warm-up for the Grand Circus.
A priori, anyone would think that one would be the master of the other, but nothing like that happened in the end. Neither side was able to prevail.
After what appeared to be a successful run up until the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix, Alonso won the race by dominating it from start to finish, but Hamilton came up behind him in the final straight to try to pass him, and everything appeared to go off without a hitch.
Because he was prevented from doing it during the pit stop, he did not do it. After all, it was a guaranteed double, and taking risks in the Principality can get you into financial trouble.
The incident resulted in the formation of two opposing camps within the team, ultimately leading to Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen gaining ground in the championship.
The qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, in which Alonso stalled for a more extended period than usual just in front of Hamilton, as well as the gravel snag that Hamilton experienced in China, are still seared into the retina.
Alonso left McLaren the same way that Prost did to return to Renault and experience the affection he had stopped getting at McLaren.
A rivalry worthy of a feature film, not because we say so, but because a movie was made about it that shows how Lauda and Hunt came to be known as Rush.
In the 1970s, both of them dictated the tempo of the championship, and it wasn’t until the middle of that decade, in 1976, that it reached its pinnacle level.
That season is the one that is reflected in the film, which saw the Austrian win four of the first six appointments and get two-second places, while the Briton had added four withdrawals to his totals at that point in the season.
Everything looked like it was going to plan for the Ferrari driver to win another championship, but then he was involved in that terrible accident at the Nürburgring, which nearly claimed his life in flames. This altered everything.
Six weeks after that horrifying accident, Lauda returned to the circuits, and it seemed like everything was stacked in the Mclaren driver’s favor to win the championship.
He came into the final race held at Suzuka with options, but he made a decision that would surprise anyone today, but that magnified his humanity.
He tried to win the title by resorting to the epic in the final stretch of the course.
Lauda decided to pull out of the Grand Prix of Japan on the second lap after realizing that the track was in harsh conditions for driving.
The rain that had fallen on him was not inconsequential, and with what had just happened to him in Germany still fresh in his mind, he put his life before adding another trophy to his Palmares.
This made it much easier for Hunt to win the championship.
He needed to finish in the top four to pass his competitor in the overall standings, which he did with two laps left before the checkered flag was waved. This allowed him to take the title.
In the middle of the 1990s, the Kaiser faced his first truly formidable competitor in Formula 1 in the form of Damon Hill.
The truth is that it emerged in a most certainly dramatic manner, as the Briton took the Williams team on his back after the death of Ayrton Senna at Imola (1994) and fought for the title against the German until the very last race in Australia.
The result will live long in the memory, just as it did with Senna and Prost.
The collision on the Antipodean date sent Schumacher flying into a wall of tires, while Hill also suffered suspension damage that forced him to retire.
Both drivers had to give up the race as a result. The German driver responsible for closing the track was not found guilty of any wrongdoing by the FIA; consequently, Schumi was awarded the championship because he finished ahead of the other drivers by a single point.
Hill made amends by beating Schumacher to win the championship in 1996. Schumacher had just finished his first year at Ferrari, which was not as competitive as it would become in later years.
Hill won the championship from Schumacher.
Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet were at the center of yet another power struggle throughout the 1980s and claimed the Williams team as its victim.
They were never able to get along, and the Brazilian devoted several rants to their mutual rivalry and teammate status.
However, there was never any serious incident between the two on the track, which means that sportsmanship did at least reign on the circuits, with such beautiful duels as the one that took place at Silverstone in 1987.
Despite this, the Briton was involved in two accidents at Spa and Suzuka as a direct result of the tension between the two.
One of these accidents resulted in the Briton breaking a vertebra, which opened the door for Piquet to win the championship.
The on-track competition between Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen at the tail end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century was another example of healthy competition between drivers.
During that time, Ferrari and McLaren were engaged in fierce competition, and their rivalry was the first to draw a sword.
It was only interrupted in 1999 when Schumi broke his right leg at Silverstone due to a frontal impact against the protections and could not continue racing for the remainder of the year.
It was the one the Finn made at Spa 2000 when he took advantage of the slipstreaming of the lapped Ricardo Zonta to pass both of them.
If there is one particular overtaking of them that is particularly memorable, it is this one. Schumacher was, without a doubt, the one who got the best laugh.
According to himself, Hakkinen was the only competitor that he took seriously.
The Dutchman and the British seven-time champion did not begin their actual competition against one another until 2021.
Grand Prix victories had been played out before, but Red Bull got very close to Mercedes, leading to actual head-to-head duels between the two.
These head-to-head duels had their peaks of tension at Silverstone, Monza, and Saudi Arabia, with collisions in which Verstappen ended up against the protections and in the air, as well as the one in which Mad Max had to give him back the position and took a hit from the Englishman.
Silverstone, Monza, and Saudi
Had it not been for the presence of the Halo in the second of these, Hamilton would most likely no longer be among us, as the spirited single-seater practically climbed on top of him.
If the Halo had not been there, he would have been killed.
Last but not least, in Abu Dhabi, with yet another outcome that stopped the heart, Verstappen stole his wallet and what was going to be his eighth crown.
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