There are few sports where the stakes are higher than Formula 1. Sports fame is one thing, but if the competition can get you to the hospital, or worse, the events that take place on the track take another Dimension.
No wonder then that the collision between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix divided opinions. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was one of the most sincere in his views, claiming Hamilton made a “desperate” and “amateur” move that resulted in a “hollow victory” after leaving his Verstappen in the hospital.
Fortunately, the Red Bull driver got the all-clear and was discharged from the hospital later that evening so the focus could focus on how the incident could affect the future championship battle.
Hamilton and Verstappen aren’t the first rivals to collide on the track as they battle for a title, however.
F1’s history is littered with the rubble of high profile accidents, some of which are still considered the sport’s most memorable moments.
-Brawn hopes the collisions stop, Ecclestone blames Hamilton
Schumacher v Hill – 1994 Australian Grand Prix
When the F1 circus reached Australia for the last race of the 1994 season, Benetton driver Michael Schumacher defended a point lead in the drivers ‘standings over Williams’ Damon Hill. As the leader of the race but under pressure from Hill on the first few laps, Schumacher ran far on lap 36 and damaged his car against a concrete barrier.
Unaware of the damage to the Benetton in front, Hill threw his car in on the next corner to try to overtake, but Schumacher turned on his rival and eliminated both cars from the race.
Although nothing was done by the stewards, the accident immediately raised eyebrows when it presented Schumacher with the title. Schumacher had subsequently stood on the guard rails to ensure that his rival did not take the lead in the next lap.
Years later, Hill said, “There are two things that set Michael apart from the rest of the Formula One drivers – his sheer talent and attitude. I admire the former, but the latter leaves me cold.”
Mansell versus Senna – Belgian Grand Prix 1987
The 1987 Belgian Grand Prix had to restart after a serious accident between Philippe Streiff and Jonathan Palmer, but it was a subsequent collision between Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna that became the main topic of conversation after the race.
Senna took the lead at the restart, but Mansell was faster and tried to avoid the Fagnes chicane from outside on the first lap. The two entered the curve side by side, but soon ran out of the asphalt, made contact and spun away together.
Senna landed his Lotus in the gravel and was on the spot while Mansell struggled another 17 laps before returning to the pits with damage. As soon as he was out of the car, Mansell made a B-line for the Lotus garage and grabbed Senna by the collar of his overalls, dangling his rival a few inches off the floor.
Veteran F1 journalist Alan Henry later wrote, “The message he was trying to get across was unmistakable.”
Senna v Prost – 1989 Japanese Grand Prix
The collision between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix was one of the most controversial of all time.
On lap 46 at Suzuka, McLaren teammates fighting for the title, while Prost had a 16-point lead, came together in the final chicane when Senna overtook the French. Prost turned on his teammate and the couple tangled their bikes before coming to a standstill in a run-off zone.
“I know everyone thinks I did it on purpose,” Prost said later. “But what I’m saying is I didn’t open the door and that’s it … he was trying to pass and it was impossible for me because he got into the braking zone so much faster than usual.
“When we got to the chicane, he was so far back. If you look in the mirror and there is a guy 20 meters behind you, you can’t tell, and I didn’t even notice that he was trying to overtake me. But at the same time I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to leave him even a meter away. No way.’ I took off the gas, braked – and turned. “
When Prost got out of his McLaren, Senna managed to restart his car and, with the help of the marshals, drive it down the escape route. He went on to win the race but was later disqualified for missing the chicane after a lengthy meeting with FISA officials.
The decision meant Prost was crowned world champion, while Senna, angry at the decision, had to wait 12 months to get revenge.
Senna v Prost – Japanese Grand Prix 1990
When Senna arrived at Suzuka in 1990, the events of the previous year were still in mind and before the race his emotions were tested to the utmost by the decision to leave his grid spot on the dirty side of the track.
He accused French FISA President Jean-Marie Balestre of rigging the championship 12 months earlier, and felt the same way when his request to move pole to the other side of the grid was denied.
As he had predicted, Prost got off better when the lights went out and he vented his frustration by ramming his Ferrari on the first corner. The two drivers were out of the running on the spot, which meant Senna was named world champion this time around.
A year later, Senna revealed what he had been thinking before the race: “I said to myself, ‘OK, you’re trying to do a clean job and do the job right and then stupid people will get you damn right if you cheer me off the line tomorrow beats, I’ll try the first corner, and he’d better not turn in because he won’t make it. ‘
“And it just happened.”
Rosberg v Hamilton – Belgian Grand Prix 2014
It was already clear at the beginning of the 2014 season that the drivers’ championship would be a two-horse race between Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. When the championship in Belgium reached the 12th round of the season, the fight was well balanced as Rosberg was 11 points ahead of Hamilton and everything was still to play.
But tensions in the Mercedes camp were high after Hamilton refused to switch for his teammate at the last race in Hungary, despite the two drivers pursuing different strategies. At Spa, Rosberg was happy with pole position in qualifying, but Hamilton took the lead on the first lap and put his team-mate back on his back.
Rosberg fought his way back on lap two before attempting an unlikely pass at Les Combes, a medium-speed chicane at the end of the long Kemmel straight. The German left the nose of his car on the inside of his teammate and when the chicane shifted down, Rosberg’s front wing pierced Hamilton’s left rear tire, damaged the bottom of Hamilton’s car and eventually resulted in his retirement.
Rosberg finished second behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, extending his lead in the championship, but the collision on lap two took on a new dimension when a team meeting after the race revealed that Rosberg had deliberately caused the collision.
“It looked pretty clear to me, but we just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose,” Hamilton told the media that evening. “He said he did it on purpose, he said he could have avoided it.
“He said, ‘I did it to prove a point’, he was basically like, ‘I did it to prove a point’. And you don’t just have to rely on me, go and ask Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team principal], Paddy [Lowe, technical director] and all the guys who aren’t happy with him either.
“I was amazed listening to the meeting. You have to ask him what he meant by that.”
Rosberg, who was speaking to the press at the same time as Hamilton, claimed he saw the event as a racing accident.
“I’ve seen it and I don’t want to say what it definitely is,” added Rosberg. “The stewards rated it as a racing incident and that’s how you can describe it.”
Rosberg was reprimanded internally for the collision, while Hamilton won the next five races in a row, which ultimately formed the basis for his second title win and his first of six championships with Mercedes.
Rosberg versus Hamilton – 2016 Spanish Grand Prix
If the Mercedes team management was furious after the Belgian Grand Prix in 2014, they were absolutely furious after the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. Once again, the title fight would clearly be a head-to-head battle between Rosberg and Hamilton, and once again the two fell apart on the track.
A series of reliability problems in the first four laps resulted in Hamilton finishing 43 points behind Rosberg at the Circuit de Catalunya in the championship standings. He took pole position for the race, but a bad escape gave Rosberg the lead on corner one on a track where overtaking was known to be difficult.
However, Rosberg had left his car with the wrong engine setting at start and when he came through Turn 3 the hybrid system began to harvest energy instead of using it. That gave Hamilton a speed advantage of 17 km / h on the descent to Turn 4 and the chance to throw his Mercedes inside and regain the lead. As he did so, Rosberg realized his hiring mistake and went over to cover Hamilton’s platoon. But at that point, Hamilton was in no mood to give in, and the pair collided at the entrance to Turn 4, ending up in a pile of broken carbon fiber in the gravel.
Although the stewards considered the collision a racing accident, the team’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda blamed Hamilton when the two drivers were called to the Mercedes engineering trucks to explain.
“The big question was whose fault it was?” said Lauda. “It was clear to me that Lewis was going too aggressively to the right, hit the grass, couldn’t stop his car and then drove him over.
“I said if I have to choose between the two, it’s more Lewis’s fault than Nico. And Lewis didn’t appreciate it because he disagreed. He said, ‘Why are you criticizing me?’ I said, “I’m sorry. I cannot accept that you crash and then we are not to blame for anything or anyone. For me it has to be someone’s fault. “And then Lewis got really upset.
“Nico said: ‘Yes, that was your part too, you moved inside. Why didn’t you leave a room?’ He said, ‘Why should I, I won the race’. “
Lauda said he met with Hamilton again on the Spanish island of Ibiza to discuss the incident one-on-one while Mercedes imposed stricter rules of engagement on its drivers. Lauda later revealed that the rules came with the ultimate risk that a driver would be fired from his contract if he didn’t act in the best interests of the team.
“We made a few rules, we told them – especially in Barcelona when they knocked each other off the track – we said that this was unacceptable for Mercedes and that one of you had to win.” [the race] one cannot repel one another.
“We made some rules that you shouldn’t [do that] and you will have to pay a fine if you do it again or we will consider releasing you from your contract because we are team players here and we cannot destroy each other. That was the thing. Toto came up with some good rules and we had peace again. We fought hard and the number of accidents between them decreased. “
Schumacher versus Villeneuve – European Grand Prix 1997
Michael Schumacher came to the 1997 championship final with the chance of winning the first Ferrari title since 1979. As in 1994, he went into the last race one point ahead and was ready to defend it again. all costs.
His contender for the title this time was Williams’ Jacques Villeneuve, and on lap 47 the Canadian attempted to overtake on the inside of the dry sac corner. Schumacher – in a similar move as he did on the hill three years earlier – turned against him and broke the suspension of his Ferrari, but left the Williams with minor damage.
“The car felt very strange,” said Villeneuve after finishing third and becoming world champion. “The hit was very hard. It was no small matter.”
Schumacher was later disqualified from the championship by the FIA because of the incident.
Schumacher versus Coulthard – 1998 Belgian Grand Prix
A rain race in Spa-Francorchamps exploded in the 24th lap when the leading Michael Schumacher lapped the recovering David Coulthard. Schumacher’s title rival was Coulthard’s McLaren team-mate Mika Häkkinen, who was already out of the race, and Ferrari team boss Jean Todt had come to McLaren to tell Coulthard to get out of the way.
The McLaren driver took off to let the Ferrari pass, but stayed on the ideal line, and Schumacher plowed into Coulthard’s back, unseen by spray. After Schumacher had made it back into the pits, Schumacher stormed – along with numerous television cameras – to the McLaren garage and had to hold back when he yelled at Coulthard: “Are you trying to kill me? “
Hunt against the crowd – 1977 Canadian Grand Prix
Getting knocked out by a backmarker is one thing, but quite another when the backmarker is your teammate. One such incident left James Hunt angry at his McLaren colleague Jochen Mass during the 1977 Canadian Grand Prix and eventually took out his aggression on an unsuspecting Marshal.
Hunt was in a close battle for the lead with Mario Andretti when the two reached the Mass lap. When Hunt tried to overtake his McLaren teammate inside, they met and he plowed him out of the race at 100 mph into the safety fence.
“I was really good,” said Hunt after the race. “I had to go to the left … then suddenly he drove over to the left, braked and waved me through to the right. But I was committed and couldn’t avoid him … —. “
After climbing out of his car, Hunt stood on the side of the track and angrily waved his fist at Mass. When a marshal tried to lure Hunt away, the 1976 world champion responded with a sharp right hook that turned the marshal cold. Hunt immediately tried to apologize to the marshal but was later fined $ 750 for walking on the track and $ 2,000 for beating the officer.
Hill v Bandini – 1964 Mexican Grand Prix
Graham Hill reached the final of the 1964 World Championship in Mexico City with a lead of five points in the drivers’ standings over John Surtees from Ferrari and a lead of nine points over Jim Clark from Lotus. A top two finish would secure him the title if Surtees won, and a third would be good enough if Clark, who started from pole, took top honors.
It started on the wrong foot when the elastic on Hill’s glasses broke before the start and the delay in sorting out pushed him back to 10th place. He fought his way back to third place on lap 12, but came under pressure from Lorenzo Bandini, who dived inside the BRM several times but couldn’t get past – resulting in some fist movements from the normally composed Brit.
On lap 31, Bandini made an even more opportunistic lunge and the pair came in contact and twisted the BRM backwards into the barrier. Both managed to get back into the race, but a bent exhaust slowed Hill Motor’s performance and he had to make an extended pit stop for repairs, ruining his chance for the title.
After the race, there was some evidence of foul play as the title went to Bandini’s Ferrari teammate Surtees, but BRM team principal Louis Stanley got none of it.
“Allegations were thrown around after the race,” he said. “Some said Bandini deliberately overthrew the BRM as part of the Ferrari tactic. I was reluctant to agree.
“In terms of temperament, Bandini was fiery and impulsive, a fearless driver who, however, was never guilty of dubious tactics … Before we left the track, Dragoni, Ferrari team manager, Forghieri, chief engineer, and Bandini pitted and apologized Bandini was in tears. Everyone shook hands. As far as BRM was concerned, the incident was closed. “
Webber v Vettel – 2010 Turkish Grand Prix
After the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix there was no handshake at Red Bull, as the team was split in the middle after a collision between its drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
On lap 41, Vettel came next to Webber at turn 12, but drifted back over the path of his teammate when they came into the braking zone. One cloud of smoke later and both were on their way to the run-off zone, with Vettel’s car fatally damaged.
“Seb had a top speed advantage and went down inside,” said Webber. “We were side by side and then it looks like he turned right pretty quickly and we made contact. It was definitely quick.”
Vettel added, “I’m not in the happiest mood. If you look at the pictures, it was clear I had the inside. I was up front and just went down to focus on the braking point, and honestly, you can see that we touched and he touched my right rear wheel and I started off. “
The collision cost Red Bull an almost certain one-two but had much longer lasting consequences as it created a rift between the two sides of the garage that lasted until Webber left the team in 2013. Red Bull attempted to plaster up the cracks immediately afterwards with a posed photo of the two drivers shaking off the incident, but the hostility could not be hidden as they continued to battle for the title until the final in Abu Dhabi, where Vettel was in the Overall ranking came back crowned champion.
In a recent interview with Channel 4 about the relationship, Webber was asked if the drivers put their differences aside after the incident.
“Absolutely not. Not a chance,” replied Webber. “We have often completely exceeded the mark professionally, and I have lost a lot of trust in him in a professional sense.
“We’re pretty close now, messages are exchanged, that’s gone, I had enough red bottles to pass this on. But in terms of what happened back then when he got food poisoning and I don’t know who’s inside his meal would have done … but in the end it gave the team a headache because we were going for a World Cup this year 2010 and we were both on the same team against Lewis and Fernando [Alonso], in the last race with four people, it was an absolute headache for this team.
“We had a lot of mental challenges and the team was starting to split up so it was tough for us [team boss] Christian [Horner] manage that. “