Verstappen and Hamilton crash as title rivals, but are certainly not the first

Verstappen and Hamilton crash as title rivals, but are certainly not the first

19-07-2021 11:56

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton came into violent contact for the first time at Silverstone, resulting in a retirement for the Dutchman. Hamilton recieved a ten second penalty for the incident, but he recovered to win the race. When have title contenders clashed before, and what were the penalties back then?

Alain Prost - Ayrton Senna, Japan 1989

We start straight away with perhaps the greatest rivalry Formula 1 has ever seen. Ayrton Senna against Alain Prost. The two became teammates at McLaren in 1988, where tensions were already running high. But the boiling point came at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix.

Prost was ahead with less than ten laps to go and Senna had to strike to still have a chance at a second world title in a row. On lap 46, the Brazilian went for the overtaking manoeuvre but Prost slammed the door shut. The two hit each other causing the Frenchman to retire immediately.

Senna returned to the track with the help of the marshals and via a run-off road. He returned to the pits for a new front wing, and crossed the finish line first. Eventually, however, a penalty came for Senna, not because of the crash, but for the way he entered the track. He was disqualified and thus lost his chance at the title.

Ayrton Senna - Alain Prost, Japan 1990

One year later, same drivers, same circuit. But not as teammates this time. For Senna it was simple: at Suzuka he would win the title with one race to go if finished ahead of Prost or if both drivers would fail to see the chequered flag.

Senna put his McLaren on pole position, while Prost put his Ferrari in second place in qualifying. Senna wasn't happy with his pole though, because that side of the track would be dirtier. The Brazilian wanted to start on the other side, but he didn't get his way.

Prost had a much better start on Sunday but Senna wanted to win his second title at all costs. As the pair dived into the first corner Senna stayed on the inside and both drivers crashed into the tyre wall. No penalties were handed and the title went to Senna.

Prost was furious after the incident, calling Senna "disgusting... a man of no value". He said he almost kissed the sport goodbye at the point of getting out of his car.

Michael Schumacher - Damon Hill, Adelaide 1994

Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill both competed for their first title in 1994. Schumacher won more races, but was disqualified twice and also had to miss two more races. When the F1 circus arrived in Australia for the final Grand Prix, there was just one point difference between Schumacher and Hill.

On the 35th lap of the race, Schumacher hit the wall, causing Hill to find himself right behind the German. The Brit wanted to go for the overtake, but Schumacher aggressively defended. The two collided and Schumacher crashed out immediately. Hill's Williams seemed to be able to continue, but when Hill arrived in the pits the damage was too much.

Schumacher won his first ever championship. Williams did not file a protest, mainly because the team was still dealing with the tragic death of Senna.

Jacques Villeneuve - Michael Schumacher, Jerez 1997

Again, the title fight went on until the very last race of the championship. Jacques Villeneuve and Schumacher were engaged in a fierce battle as the championship contenders arrived in Jerez, Spain, for the European Grand Prix.

At the start of the race Schumacher immediately took over the lead from his Canadian rival, but on the 48th lap Villeneuve was right behind again and went for the overtake. The Williams driver was right in front of Schumacher's Ferrari by the corner, but the German turned full in anyway and the two collided.

Schumacher crashed out immediately, while Villeneuve was able to continue. The Canadian finished third and took home four points which was enough to win the title. In the end, the points didn't matter much, because Schumacher was disqualified from the championship, while his race statistics like poles and victories remained.

Schumacher continued to drive at a high level at Ferrari, while Villeneuve dropped back with Williams. On the track, the two rarely met again due to the large difference between the two teams and Villeneuve's subsequent, often poor, team choices.

Sebastian Vettel - Mark Webber, Turkey 2010

In the 2010 season, it seemed for a long time that five drivers had a chance to win the title. Among them were Red Bull Racing teammates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Both drivers were fighting for their first world title when things went wrong midway through the season.

In Turkey, Webber was in first place and seemed to be heading for his third victory in a row. Vettel didn't want to hear about it and tried to overtake him on the long straight. The Australian squeezed Vettel slightly, causing the German to hit the grass.

Vettel retired, while Webber scored fifteen points by finishing third. No penalties were handed out.

This is where the relationship between Vettel and Webber really started to show cracks. The title went to Vettel later in the year, and Webber increasingly felt like he was Red Bull's number two, something he was very unhappy with. The two were teammates through 2013 and Vettel managed to win every title until that year.

Lewis Hamilton - Nico Rosberg, Belgium 2014

Perhaps the most intense battle between two teammates that continued for several years was that between childhood friends Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at Mercedes. The two were first paired at the team in 2013, but the spectacle erupted in 2014 when Mercedes had built a dominant car.

Neither driver was given the number one status in the team, leaving the two free to duel with each other on the track. This came to a head for the first time at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix. On the second lap, the two drivers battled for first place, and Hamilton's rear tyre was touched by Rosberg's front wing. A puncture and apparently further damage resulted in a DNF for the Brit. Rosberg eventually finished second. No penalties were handed out.

Nico Rosberg - Lewis Hamilton, Spain 2016

In 2016, it was Hamilton and Rosberg's fourth year as teammates and the tension had been around for several years between the two. Hamilton won the title in 2014 and 2015, but after a mega start from Rosberg in 2016, taking the full 100 points from the first four races, Hamilton had to react in the fifth Grand Prix.

In Spain, Hamilton started on pole but lost it immediately after the start. Coming out of Turn 3, Hamilton had much more speed than Rosberg and went for an overtaking attempt in Turn 4. The Brit cut inside, but Rosberg did the same, sending Hamilton onto the grass.

With no grip, Hamilton's Mercedes was uncontrollable and he slid left back onto the track straight into his teammate. Hamilton and Rosberg both crashed out, allowing the German to maintain his large lead. No penalties were handed out, but from this point on it was truly war between the two.

Hamilton was able to make up much of the deficit and when Formula One arrived in Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix, Hamilton was only eight points behind. Unfortunately for Hamilton he did not see the finish line in Malaysia and Rosberg took fifteen points.

A win by the German at Suzuka one race later meant that for the remaining four races he only had to finish second behind Hamilton. This is exactly what he did. He won his first and only title, as after 2016 Rosberg had had enough of the sport and hung up his helmet and retired.

Max Verstappen - Lewis Hamilton, Great Britain 2021

And then back to Sunday. With Max Verstappen seriously competing for the title for the first time, his battle with Hamilton reached boiling point in Britain. The Dutchman was given pole position at Silverstone after F1's first sprint race, but Hamilton was determined to win his home Grand Prix.

The Briton went all out to overtake Verstappen in the first lap, but at Copse Corner a major incident between the two finally happened. Verstappen turned in front at Copse, while Hamilton didn't make the apex of the bend. The Brit hit the right rear wheel of Verstappen with his left front wheel.

The Dutchman lost his wheel and slammed into the tyre pile with a force of more than 50G. Hamilton was able to continue his race and was saved by the red flag as his car was able to be repaired. Hamilton received a ten-second time penalty for the incident, but managed to win the race.

Verstappen expressed his displeasure after he was released from hospital. He called the cheering of Hamilton after his victory "unsporting". The friendliness between Hamilton and Verstappen seems to have disappeared. The fans can expect another 13 very spectacular races starring Verstappen and Hamilton in 2021.

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