When team-mates fall out in Formula 1: The good, the bad and the ugly...
You think the gloves are off between Hamilton and Rosberg? Read on...
By Mike Wise and James Galloway. Last Updated: 02/06/14 4:28pm
If you think that the gloves came off between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in Monaco then maybe it's time for a little context. With the Mercedes pair's spat dominating headlines this past week, we take a look at some infamous rivalries of years gone by in F1...
Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi - Ferrari
When Pironi joined Ferrari ahead of the 1981 season, Villeneuve was well-established as the Scuderia's darling. It seemed they could forgive him anything, such as labelling that year's car, the 126CK, a "s***box" because they knew that, in the French-Canadian, they had the fastest, most flair-some driver of the era. Famously dragging cars around on three wheels, Villeneuve's refusal to give up also melted hearts and he duly hauled his steed - more of a nag than a prancing horse - to wins in Monaco and Spain.
Pironi, by contrast, was nowhere - his confidence at such a low ebb at one stage that Villeneuve quietly asked journalists to go easy on the Frenchman, as he knew he'd been spooked by a particularly nasty testing shunt. Little wonder, then, that Villeneuve felt particularly aggrieved after the 1982 San Marino GP, when he felt Pironi had broken an agreement by passing him on the last lap to win the race. Resolving that they would never speak again, Villeneuve tragically crashed to his death in Belgium two weeks later whilst trying to beat Pironi's qualifying time.
Alain Prost and Rene Arnoux - Renault
Everything about these two was different: whereas Prost had effortlessly ascended to the top of French motorsport (well-lubricated back then by oil company Elf - Prost once said his career had never personally cost him so much as a centime), Arnoux had served an erratic, bitty apprenticeship, working as a mechanic to support himself and not hitting the big-time until he was the wrong side of 30.
His rise dovetailed with that of Renault, but Arnoux was put in the shade somewhat when Prost arrived in 1981. Matters really came to a head at the following year's French GP, though, when the French manufacturer drew up an agreement to let Prost, who was in the title hunt, by if his team-mate led a 1-2. Clearly overcome by a patriotic fervour, Rene instead chose to ignore it - a course of action that, by the sounds of it, split opinion amongst French F1 fans.
In his autobiography, Prost revealed that, after stopping for petrol on his way home from Paul Ricard that night, the garage attendant mixed the pair of them up. "You did the right thing M. Arnoux," he piped up, "I'm glad you beat that little s*** Prost." Prost paid by cash rather than card, while Arnoux left to join Ferrari at the end of the season.
Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna - McLaren
Prost was arguably the fastest driver in F1 before Senna arrived on the scene. But the more experienced Frenchman, by then a double World Champion, made full use of his wiles when the Brazilian joined McLaren in 1988. Senna famously crashed out of a massive lead at that year's Monaco GP, but only after he had felt compelled to respond to times that Prost, running a distant second, had suddenly started setting. Between them, they won 15 out of 16 races that season and Senna should have won at Monza as well. But instead he hit a backmarker - and once again after Prost had deliberately pushed him, even though he knew his own car had a terminal misfire.
Senna took that year's title and doubtless learned a few lessons too. The feud ratcheted up early the following season at Imola, where Prost felt Senna had welched on an agreement (what is it with these agreements?) and passed him for the win. The gloves were off metaphorically by then and literally so in Japan, where the pair collided, handing Prost the title. He then moved to Ferrari but Senna still got his own back at Suzuka 12 months later, taking the title when the pair hit each other again.
Given Prost's appearance in two separate feuds (there's a good argument for including another, this time with Nigel Mansell at Ferrari) there was a certain irony attached to reports of Mercedes asking him for advice on how to deal with their own feuding drivers which broke on the morning of Monaco GP qualifying.
Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet - Williams
Nelson Piquet was a double World Champion at Brabham but he felt that Bernie Ecclestone wasn't paying him enough, and anyway the team was on the wane by 1985. His move to Williams was announced that summer and the Brazilian had assumed number one status over Nigel Mansell, who'd been around the F1 block a few times by then but never really shown star potential. Yet no sooner had Piquet's move been announced then Mansell suddenly found his F1 mojo, with back-to-back wins coming towards the end of the season. Perhaps it wasn't going to be quite so easy after all.
Piquet could be forgiven any feelings of superiority after winning the first race of 1986 in Brazil (Mansell crashed on the opening lap) but any thoughts he had that the Midlander would be found lapping a safe distance behind - and preferably in a car trailing smoke - would be extinguished when Nigel hit top gear. A run of four wins culminated at the British GP, by which time 'Mansell Mania' was born. But it was also increasingly clear that Didcot might not be big enough for the both of them.
That Williams thought it was ultimately helped Alain Prost claim an unlikely title success in a McLaren that was clearly no match for their Honda-powered car. But what certainly didn't help was a bubbling enmity between the pair - which reached boiling point when Piquet gave an interview in which he labelled his team-mate an "uneducated blockhead" and also made less-than chivalrous comments about Mansell's wife.
The pair remained at Williams in 1987 and whilst Mansell kept up the winning habit - including his famous comeback and dummy on Piquet at Silverstone - the Brazilian's greater consistency saw him take the title. Then he was off, taking Honda's engine supply with him to Lotus.
Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton - McLaren
As far as obvious warning signs for team-mate ructions go, McLaren's pairing of Fernando Alonso with Lewis Hamilton in 2007 produced few obvious alerts when it was announced. Having clinched his second successive World Championship with Renault several months before, Alonso was expected to essentially pick up where he left off and go on to create his own era of success following the first retirement of Michael Schumacher. The then 22-year-old Hamilton, meanwhile, while clearly an exciting talent after repeated successes in the junior series culminated in an impressive GP2 title, was an F1 rookie and expected to go through the normal growing pains.
How wrong pre-season assumptions were. It was Hamilton's instant acclimisation to the top level which created an unexpected dynamic at McLaren and immediately gave F1's standard bearer an in-house competitor he hadn't been expecting. A third place on his debut in Australia was the first of a record nine consecutive podium finishes for Hamilton and, following initial signs of tension in Monaco when the rookie felt aggrieved with McLaren's strategy, the Briton's victory ahead of Alonso at Indianapolis saw the Spaniard weave towards the team's pitwall in apparent frustration at the unfolding events.
As the season, and the championship battle, progressed McLaren became engulfed by a maelstrom of controversy when the 'Spygate' saga, and Alonso's own relationship breakdown with Ron Dennis, took hold. The Spaniard's rivalry with Hamilton came to a head in Hungary when he was handed a five-place grid penalty for blocking his team-mate in the pits in retaliation for Hamilton's failure to let him through on the Q3 fuel-burn laps. In spite of all this, the pair, separated by a mere four points in Hamilton's favour, headed into the Interlagos title decider at the head of the Drivers' Championship. However, on the weekend the FIA stationed an independent 'observer' in the McLaren garage to ensure team equity between their two drivers, it was Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen who snuck in at the last to steal the crown. Within a fortnight Alonso, after the most tumultuous of seasons, was gone.
Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber - Red Bull
One of F1's most deep-rooted and fractious rivalries of recent times and yet, conversely, also one of the sport's most successful and long-running team-mate pairings. Across five seasons at Red Bull, the Vettel/Webber partnership simmered rather than repeatedly boiled over in public, a handful of explosive exceptions aside that is.
The first of these flashpoints - and the one which created lingering distrust between the pair - was at the 2010 Turkish GP when the two crashed while battling for the lead just as Red Bull were beginning to emerge as the grid's new dominant force. With Vettel the energy drink company's home-grown star, the ever-frank Webber strongly hinted on more than one occasion that he felt the young German was favoured inside the team - most notably of all at that same year's British GP, when his remark "not bad for a number two driver" after taking the chequered flag referred to an incident earlier in the weekend when a new front wing was taken off his car and placed on Vettel's.
Having emerged with the Drivers' Championship at the end of 2010 despite his team-mate leading the standings for much of the year, Vettel generally held sway thereafter. However, what proved to be the Australian's final season in F1 produced arguably the biggest controversy of all: the 'Multi-21' row of Malaysia 2013 bringing to the surface all the lingering tension between the two drivers as Vettel, despite the instructions of his team, overtook Webber to win the race.