Among many things of note during the current Formula One season, in-team fighting and unrest has perhaps been the most prominent.
Ayrton Senna once said: “Being a racing driver means you are racing with other people, and if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver.”
It is a quote often used as an afterthought to the sometimes bullish, win-at-all-costs attitude of drivers. In a discipline like Formula One, every driver is one at the top of their craft and the field comprises of 20-or-so of the best single-seater drivers in the world.
As you move up the teams in a field of winners, that intensity gets higher and higher. There have been times throughout the sport’s great history when teammates have clashed in spectacular fashion.
Perhaps the sport’s most famous and tumultuous rivalry, Prost and Senna were teammates at McClaren. Almost completely opposite in terms of style, Prost was a calculated tactician, who viewed the season as a whole, picking up points with a long-term view to the world championship. Senna, on the other hand, had a much more passionate win-at-all-costs mentality.
During the 1988 Portuguese Grand Prix, Senna almost forced Prost into the pit wall at 180 mph. While fighting for the 1989 championship, the pair clashed in a season-long drama of finger-pointing, on-track clashes and adrenaline-fuelled racing.
In the second to last race of the season, both cars skidded into an escape road as Senna attempted an overtake. Prost stalled but his Brazilian teammate returned to the track to battle to victory. The sport’s governing body controversially disqualified him on a technicality, handing the title to Prost.
There were echoes of 2010 at this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix when Vettel defied team orders to pass battle with Webber for first place.
At 2010’s Turkish Grand Prix, the Red Bull duo spectacularly collided. As Vettel attempted to overtake Webber they hit each other and the former was forced to retire from the race. The relationship soured at the British Grand Prix two months later when Vettel sustained damaged to his front wing in practice and the team replaced it with Webber’s – leaving the Australian with an old specification wing. Webber described himself as “the underdog” of the team after that episode.
The Williams teammates clashed in the 1981 season when the Argentine Reutemann ignored team orders by refusing to let Jones pass him at the Brazilian Grand Prix. The bitter spat continued throughout the season and came to a head at the final, title-deciding race in Vegas.
Jones decided against using teamwork to aid Reutemann’s title hopes and won the rice in fine style. As a result, Reutemann lost the championship to Nelson Piquet by a single point. Jones had enough and decided to give up on Formula One at the end of the season – but not before Reutemann attempted to put the past behind them.
Jones’ response to an attempt to bury the hatchet? – “Yeah, in your f*****g back, mate.”
Nigel Mansell Vs Alain Prost
The divisive Prost makes another appearance in the list, this time at Ferrari.
Known as The Lion by Ferrari fans, Mansell had a fierce and fearless driving style but still felt that he did not have the same support from the team as his new teammate.
He claimed he was getting second-rate equipment and at one point had his car switched with Prost’s when the Frenchman thought Mansell’s chassis was superior. The dispute led to the Englishman allegedly blocking Prost after a poor start at the Portuguese Grand Prix in 1990 – allowing two McClarens into the lead.
Mansell quit the team and F1 in the middle of the season, but changed his mind when offered a seat at Williams. He stayed there until retiring from F1 for good in 1993 when a new driver joined the team.
It was, you guessed it, one Alain Prost.
In his debut season in Formula One, the young Brit Lewis Hamilton was lightning fast. It was also Fernando Alonso’s first year with the motorsport giant, McClaren.
The bad blood started to flow at the Hungarian Grand Prix when Hamilton ruined his teammate’s qualifying lap by not letting him pass. Later during the same session, both drivers pitted before a final flying lap and Alonso parked outside the McClaren garage a few seconds longer than necessary, leaving Hamilton with too little time to make his lap.
Alonso claimed pole but was then given a five-place penalty. A punishment Hamilton described as “quite light”. Hamilton won the race and the young Brit claimed that Alonso stopped speaking to him soon after, the Spaniard accusing the team of favouring Hamilton.
Alonso left McClaren after just one season.
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Guest post contributed by Simon Belfield, an avid sports fan, particularly Football & Formula One. Plays football so often he has actually taken out some low-level sports insurance with Insure4Sport.