Last May’s Monaco Grand Prix Kimi Raikkonen felt that his team had interfered in order to let Sebastian Vettel win the race. Here on The Checkered Flag we reported that Raikkonen denied that Vettel was the favoured driver. Yet team fallouts are nothing new in F1 and we look at five of the most famous team fallouts in F1 history.
Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost – McLaren
The two motorsport giants were one of Formula 1’s greatest rivalries before they became teammates. This only intensified after they both started racing for McLaren in 1988. At first having two strong personalities on the same team seemed to benefit both drivers but things quickly turned sour.
The 1989 Japanese Grand Prix was the snapping point. Senna needed to win a race to secure the Driver’s Championship but Prost had stated that he would not move aside and let Senna win. With 7 laps to go Senna made a move to overtake Prost on a chicane. Prost closed the gap resulting in the two drivers colliding. Senna was able to continue the race and go on to win but was later disqualified for missing the chicane due to the crash. Senna would claim that he had been ‘treated like a criminal’ while Prost would go on to win the Driver’s Championship.
Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet – Williams
The debate over who is the number one driver for a team can be hotly contested. After joining Williams in 1896 Piquet became the team’s No 1 driver over Nigel Mansell as part of the deal. The two drivers disliked each other with Mansell even accusing Piquet of hiding the benefits of a new differential to gain an advantage.
The relationship between Mansell and Piquet was so bad according to F1 Fanatic that they wrote: “Never was the ‘mates’ in ‘teammates’ less appropriate than when Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet drove for Williams in 1986 and 1987.”
Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton – McLaren
Lewis Hamilton exploded on to the Formula 1 scene in 2007 finishing third in his first ever race and becoming the youngest driver to lead in the Driver’s Championship. Hamilton’s ascension to F1 was celebrated by everyone except his McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso.
Alonso believed that Hamilton should respect the fact that he was the number one driver. This led to Hamilton complaining that McLaren was preventing him from racing against his teammate. The crunch point in the relationship came at the Hungary Grand Prix. Hamilton refused a team instruction in qualifying to let Alonso pass leading to Alonso retaliating by delaying Hamilton in the pits. Hamilton was unable to set a final lap time. Alonso was docked five places on the starting grid for the move.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
The childhood friends, who were teammates when they were karting, once declared that it was their dream to be Formula 1 teammates. This dream came true although it didn’t turn out to be the perfect partnership that their younger selves had envisioned.
The first signs that their relationship had become less friendly was in Monaco in 2014 where it appeared that Rosberg deliberately hindered Hamilton from trying to get pole position. The two drivers would have a difficult four years together.
The extent of their relationship breakdown was demonstrated with the video showing Hamilton throwing a cap at Rosberg only to have it thrown right back at him. Hamilton would later publicly announce that his new 2017 teammate Valtteri Bottas was much better than Rosberg.
One potential reason for the break in relations is that Hamilton certainly embraced his celebrity status compared to the stoic Rosberg. He has starred in the Pixar film Cars 2 and has appeared on numerous chat shows including TFI Friday with Chris Evans.
At the racetrack Hamilton is often seen photographed with famous celebrities with one such star being Jude Law. Motorsport.com posted a picture of them together at the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix. Like Hamilton, Law is also considered one of the UK’s biggest stars and something of a pop culture icon. He is famous for playing Doctor John Watson in Guy Richie’s two Sherlock Holmes films. The films have reached a huge global audience by expanding beyond the cinema including through an official Sherlock Holmes game which is being hosted on the ever popular gaming site Slingo. While Law doesn’t race himself, he is a big fan of the sport, and has become friends with Hamilton over the years.
Hamilton has also ensured his brand and persona extends far beyond the Formula 1 track. He has become a pop culture icon, some would say, regularly making public appearances at a number of high profile red carpet events and featuring in the aforementioned films and television shows. And let’s not forget about his notorious relationship with a well-known pop star.
Unfortunately his teammate didn’t see his off the track antics as a positive influence to his or Hamilton’s career, with Rosberg remaining the polar opposite to the fame hungry Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber – Red Bull
The partnership of Vettel and Webber at Red Bull paved the way for fours years of dominance for the team. Yet the successful pairing was not a match made in heaven and the two drivers frequently clashed. The most famous incident was in Istanbul in 2010 when the two teammates crashed after Vettel tried to pass Webber. Despite video evidence showing that Vettel had hit Webber’s car, the Australian was still blamed for the crash.
Webber believed that Vettel was the favoured driver at the team and wryly said that his victory at the British Grand Prix later in the season was “not bad for a number 2”. Another race that emphasised the discord between the two riders was during the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix where Vettel ignored a team order to not overtake Webber. Webber would accuse Vettel in his book of arrogance and taking his failings out on the team.