The enthralling sport of speed and consistency, Formula One is back with the fresh season starting Friday. The leading drivers have set their sights on the glittering trophy that decorated Nico Rosberg’s shelf in 2016 F1 Championship.
Amidst highly-competitive races on the toughest F1 tracks, wonderful would be watching the hard-hitting rivalries between drivers in the 20-race stretched Formula One calendar this year.
However, ahead of the fresh season starting with the Australian Grand Prix to be held at the Albert Park on March 24-26, it’s important to have a look back on the greatest formula one rivalries over the past five decades of the glorious championship.
71-74 – Jackie Stewart vs Emerson Fittipaldi
Although the championship got its recognition in 1950, the 70’s era saw best of action with high-competitive races.
UK-born driver Jackie Stewart, who later earned the title of ‘Flying Scot’, was a sheer delight to watch in those nine seasons he featured. He won three F1 Championship titles (1969, 71 and 73) and twice ended as the runner-up with Tyrrell.
Brazilian driver Emerson Fittipaldi was the one who challenged Stewart and broke his momentum, lifting the title twice (1972 and 74) in an era highly-dominated by the stylish driver.
The Lotus driver enjoyed extensive success as his record of being the youngest driver to win a championship in 1972, aged 25, remained intact for 33 years.
75-77 – Niki Lauda vs James Hunt
The F1 rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda is a prime example of merciless competitiveness as the two whenever clashed, resulted in high-spark action.
The rivalry was so dramatic that it convinced the ‘A Beautiful Mind’ director Ron Howard to make a film on it. The Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl starrer action drama ‘Rush’, released in 2013 and received high acclaim from critics all over the globe.
Austrian driver Lauda won the F1 Championship thrice (1975, 1977 and 1984) and remains to be the only driver to win a season with both Ferrari and McLaren.
UK-born McLaren driver James Hunt came in the scene during the 1976 F1 Championship as following a tough competition he defeated the seasoned driver Lauda.
After the humiliating defeat, Lauda took a heavy loan and strategised separately for every track and returned to winning ways in 1977.
81-89 – Nelson Piquet vs Alain Prost
McLaren driver Alain Prost won the Formula One championship four times, a record that was surpassed later by Sebastian Vettel, Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher.
The French driver ruled the F1 circuit from 1987 to 2001, winning record 51 Grand Prix. German driver Schumacher surpassed his record at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix.
However, it was his rivalry with Nelson Piquet that inspired him to do better with the flying machine. Brazilian driver Piquet was crowned as champion thrice (1981, 1983 and 1987) with 60 podium finishes at various Grand Prix.
90-95 – Ayrton Senna vs Michael Schumacher
‘Who was the greatest F1 driver of all time, Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher?’
The question will always be a never-ending debate, however, watching them race and dominating each other on the deadliest of F1 tracks was something to cherish for eternity.
The legendary Schumacher won the championship for a record seven times and his racing span with Ferrari that resulted in five consecutive titles (from 2000 to 2004) still remains to be the landmark of the premier motor sport.
On the other hand Brazil-born Senna, who died at 34 after succumbing to injuries he suffered at the San Marino Grand Prix in May 1994, shares the same legendary status as Schumacher owns.
In his active years (1984-1994), Senna won three F1 Championships and 41 Grand Prix with 80 podium finishes.
1998-06 – Michael Schumacher vs Fernando Alonso/Mika Häkkinen
It was the era finely crafted for success by the German legend Schumacher as he won five F1 Championship titles in a row, driving for Ferrari.
Spanish driver Fernando Alonso halted Schumacher’s victory juggernaut when he won two successive titles in 2005 and 2006. Besides two titles, Alonso carries 92 podium finishes in his racing portfolio.
Before Schumacher’s dominance in the early 2000’s, McLaren driver Mika Häkkinen ruled the F1 circuit winning the 1998 and 99 edition of the prestigious championship. The Finnish driver won 20 Grand Prix in his ten-year racing span.
10-15 – Sebastian Vettel vs Lewis Hamilton
The young brigade of Formula One enthusiasts value these two drivers the most. ‘Sebastian Vettel vs Lewis Hamilton’ has been the most-talked about debate in the past decade.
From Red Bull Racing to Ferrari, Vettel appears a step forward of Hamilton with four F1 Championship titles, though the Mercedes driver has exhibited tremendous development over the recent past.
The 32-year-old driver has won three titles (2008, 2014, 2015) so far, besides 104 podium finishes at various F1 Grand Prix.