The Intense Rivalries in Formula 1 Racing: Drivers Who Just Can’t Stand Each Other

By | December 6, 2023
The Intense Rivalries in Formula 1 Racing: Drivers Who Just Can't Stand Each Other

Sports are competitive, some are more than others. The sheer intensity of adrenaline-fueled Formula 1 races actively contributes to charged feuds, rivalries, and dramas. They have been there since the sport’s earlier days, and some of these conflicts were and are quite heated.

Our article aims to describe the best-known rivalries in the world of Formula 1. We will cover both historical and modern ones. We will go about how they unfolded and ended.

Rivalries interest the bookmakers as well. If you want to learn how to place wagers on F1 races, this article isn’t for you. We recommend reading more about existing bookmakers that offer betting on this sport. Famous Helabet Kenya can be one such example.

Ayrton Senna vs. Alain Prost

This was one of the most heated rivalries in the sport’s history. The situation got more charged due to the fact that both drivers were among the best in Formula 1. It reached the highest level of intensity during the time they were on the same McLaren-Honda team. After Prost moved to Ferrari, there appeared to be a rivalry between manufacturers as well, with McLaren heavily competing against Ferrari.

Both drivers were active from 1983 to 1993: Prost won four World Championships, while Senna did three. Senna was more successful during their time as teammates in the 1988 and 1989 seasons. They had different driving styles, with Senna being more extreme and unpredictable while Prost drove coldly and calculatedly.

The rivalry ended abruptly, with Prost retiring in 1993 after winning the championship, with Senna being the second. Many expected Senna to dominate the sport, but his career ended unexpectedly as well: he died during a car crash in 1994. That was probably the most famous and unfortunate F1 death to date.

Lewis Hamilton vs. Sebastian Vettel

One of the more modern rivalries, Hamilton vs. Vettel, wasn’t as intense as some of the others on our list. it wasn’t that long either: it mainly lasted through the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Although they still occasionally challenge each other, the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was the highest point of the competition, when Vettel earned a penalty from Hamilton after accusing him of brake checking.

James Hunt vs. Niki Lauda

Another well-known rivalry, this competition between these two drivers, was quite brutal. What’s even more interesting is that the two were very good friends, so the rivalry mainly existed only on track. It lasted 6 years, with both retiring in 1979 and their careers seemingly going downhill. Even though Lauda had a comeback a few years later.

The feud’s most known moment was when Lauda suffered a horrific crash at Nürburgring during the German Grand Prix in 1976. It resulted in a fire, but Lauda survived the burns despite lifelong cosmetical damage. Moreover, he returned to F1 after skipping just two races, finishing the season in second place, just one point behind Hunt.

Fernando Alonso vs. Lewis Hamilton

Both powerful drivers started as teammates during Hamilton’s debut season in 2007. During the Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton commented about the team, McLaren, favoring Alonso. This led to an investigation that proved that the team did nothing to make Alonso win over Hamilton, but as a result, the rivalry emerged, heating up throughout the whole season. Many predicted that either Alonso or Hamilton would leave McLaren, and that came true: Alonso ended his contract with McLaren and signed with Renault, the team he previously raced for, for two years.

And this is how the tensions died. Moreover, years later, both were seen praising each other’s skills.

Michael Schumacher vs. Damon Hill

Their battle was something every F1 fan enjoyed in the mid-1990s. After Prost retired and Senna died, Schumacher and Hill became the main new prospects in the world of Formula 1. Hill was the most popular driver for Williams, essentially replacing Senna. The rivalry started during the 1994 season. Schumacher was relentless and disqualified after breaking some rules, notably ignoring a black flag. The season-closing Australian Grand Prix ended for both drivers with a crash that Schumacher caused. Some argue it was intentional. The debate was active a decade after the event.

The rivalry heated up even more during the 1995 season, with seven incidents. Schumacher showed better results, and Hill didn’t argue about that. Schumacher won the season, earning the second consecutive World Championship title with his Benetton firm.

The feud started to decline in 1996. Hill won that season and mainly contested with Jacque Villeneuve, with Schumacher being far from the perfect shape after his move from Benneton to Ferrari.

The rivalry ended naturally. Schumacher competed against Villeneuve and Häkkinen, and Hill went through two teams – Arrows and Jordan – before retiring in 1999.

Sebastian Vettel vs. Mark Webber

Another rivalry involving Vettel, this one is actually even more heated. It was full of drama from the beginning: Vettel crashed into Webber’s car during the Japanese Grand Prix of the 2007 season, eliminating both from the race. What added more heat was the fact that Webber was on the way to finishing among the top 3, if not winning the race, and that would be his best result.

Surprisingly, both maintained professional relationships and even became teammates in Red Bull. Until the Turkish Grand Prix in 2010, when a collision between the two happened again. Thankfully, this time, Webber managed to stay and finish the race in third place while Vettel was essentially out.

The drama continued for several seasons until Webber retired from Formula 1 and turned to endurance racing in 2013.

Mika Häkkinen vs. Michael Schumacher

Another feud in the 1990s, where Michael Schumacher was involved, the rivalry between him and Mika Häkkinen was something to watch. The competition between the two started to form during the first half of the decade, but it was the period of 1998 to 2001 when it reached its peak. In the 1998 season, McLaren offered quite a powerful car, which, combined with Häkkinen behind the wheel, resulted in him winning eight races. Schumacher wasn’t far behind, securing six wins during the season.

The 1999 season was also quite heated, with both drivers being favorites. Unfortunately, Schumacher suddenly broke his leg during the British Grand Prix and skipped six races. Häkkinen won the season, but at least Ferrari, the team Schumacher raced for, won the Constructors Championship title.

The 2000 season was the most heated one. Both drivers show impressive results, literally taking turns at winning the races. The Belgium Grand Prix had Häkkinen winning the race in a spectacular fashion, resulting in one of the most famous Grand Prix victories in the sport’s history. Nevertheless, the season ended with Schumacher being a champion.

The 2001 season wasn’t as full of drama, although it had its impressive moments. At the end of the season, Schumacher became a champion for the second time in a row, while Häkkinen announced his retirement from the sport.


Autosports are often full of drama, and F1, probably the most watched discipline that involves vehicles, has enough of them. Some rivalries happened purely on track and involved fair, even if heated competition, while the others were quite dirty and included plenty of accusations and off-track tensions.

In this article, we listed the main ones from the 1970s to the modern days. We described them in detail, covering the reasons, the main events, and how they eventually ended. Unfortunately, some of them only came to an end after the death of one of the drivers. Other cases included drivers retiring or rivalries naturally disappearing.

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