The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us time to go back in the history and find some of the best duels we have seen on track among some of the greats in F1.
This is the second of the four-part series FormulaRapida.net is to put out in this month dubbed as ‘F1 Duels’. After showcasing 10 of the best from the 1950-1980s period, we have truncated the list to just five as we go decade by decade now.
This story has the best duels from the 1990 period – the era which is very much known to majority of the fans. We also have added some notable mentions which didn’t make the list. Duels in F1 have been present ever since the first race at Silverstone in 1950.
It’s arguably the fights between the drivers which keep most viewers glued to their screen , even till today. With everything from championship rivals to hot-headed teammates – F1 fans have seen their fair share of quarrels.
The 90s saw some pretty iconic drivers on scene. Seven-time F1 world champion Michael Shumacher made his debut in 1991, as we saw some legendary moments that have changed the face of the sport. The 90s were the site of F1’s greatest rivalries such as Ayrton Senna vs Nigel Mansell and Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen and more.
Here’s the list from the 1950-1980s era if you missed: https://formularapida.net/f1-duels-10-of-the-best-from-1950s-to-1980s-period/
So to bring some of that glory back, here are 5 of the best F1 driver battles from 1990s – we will go from fifth to first in the countdown:
5) Nigel Mansell vs Ayrton Senna – 1992 Monaco GP:
To the limit. Monaco. Mansell vs Senna. Need I say more? This 1992 battle at the classic Monte Carlo circuit saw the Brit and the Brazilian battle it out after the former pitted. The Williams driver was on the record-breaking charge to overtake the McLaren racer.
Towards the closing stages of the race, Senna made his McLaren go as wide as possible. It was tantalizingly close and is regarded as one of the purest battles in recent F1 history. Mansell was determined to get past the Brazilian at all cost.
But that meant overtaking him on a twisty and narrow circuit. The British driver pressured Senna at Casino Square and the Swimming Pool section but it just wasn’t enough as the Brazilian eventually won by 0.215s over Mansell.
4) Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost – 1993 British GP:
One of F1’s most famous and fiercest rivalries, the many fights between Senna and Prost have had their fair share of on-track battles. With seven driver championships between them, they are considered to be some of the best drivers F1 has ever seen.
Their battle at the 1993 British GP at Silverstone was one of the last Senna vs Prost battles to be witnessed before the Brazilian had a tragic demise in 1994. Whilst Williams’ Damon Hill stormed ahead at his home race, Senna and Prost were battling each other for second.
But when Hill retired from the race on Lap 41, it allowed Prost to secure the race lead in his Williams after the Frenchman had overtaken Senna in the McLaren just before the British racer’s retirement from the grand prix. The Brazilian lost out to Michael Schumacher, Johnny Herbert and Ricardo Patrese as well to be fifth.
3) Michael Schumacher vs Jean Alesi – 1995 European GP:
With just five laps remaining of the 1995 European GP at Nurburgring circuit, Ferrari’s Alesi was being chased by Benetton’s Schumacher in the fight for the lead. The Frenchman missed the chicane mid-race whilst behind back-markers.
This left him to lose some time, allowing Schumacher to catch up. There was a constant cat and mouse race between Alesi and the German. Amidst their battle, McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen and Ligier’s Martin Brundle were dueling right in front of them albeit a lap down.
Alesi was forced to slow down and on Lap 65, Schumacher finally had enough slipstream to get past the Frenchman and with just two laps to go, he secured the position that meant he won his home race at the Nurburgring and the Ferrari driver only finished 2.7s behind him.
2) Michael Schumacher vs Mika Hakkinen – 1998 Austrian GP:
This battle between championship rivals Hakkinen and Schumacher shows just how close rivals could get in F1. The race started with maiden-pole sitter Giancarlo Fisichella and Alesi leading in their Benetton and Sauber respectively.
The Row 2 had Hakkinen in third and Schumacher fourth. This battle at the 1998 Austrian GP at Red Bull Ring is a classic example of the rivalry between the two greats. Due to a slow start by the leaders and a safety car, Schumacher and Hakkinen found themselves fighting for first position.
After the safety car re-start, Schumacher – when behind Hakkinen – made a move going into Turn 4 but ended up going wide. It was then a slipstream game as the German managed to stay with the Finn but not for that long.
Schumacher had to tackle his brother Ralf and also Eddie Irvine, which he managed to but he couldn’t match McLaren’s David Coulthard. Schumacher finished third in his Ferrari as Hakkinen eventually eased into a race win in his McLaren.
1) Mika Hakkinen vs the whole grid – 1999 Austrian GP:
With Ferrari’s Schumacher unable to race due to injuries sustained at the previous race, McLaren dominated the race weekend with a 1-2 in qualifying as Hakkinen took pole alongside Coulthard. In the first few laps, however, The Scott made a move down the inside and spun his teammate around – forcing the Finn to fight his way back up the order.
Whilst Irvine dominated the race due to a speedy pit stop by Ferrari, Hakkinen managed to fight his way back to third. This was an epic drive, and one that will be remembered as one of the best recovery drives in F1 history till date.
While we got the five battles in the lead, there were few more in the era like the Mansell vs Senna tussle in 1991 Spanish GP at Barcelona, where the wet race saw multiple fights between the two. A spin from Senna did not help as the Brit eventually won the race.
Another one was the famous 1997 European GP fight between Jacques Villenueve and Schumacher, a heated and controversial F1 title battle at Jerez, where the Canadian took the win and the championship while the German retired and faced criticism for his move.
Villeneuve attempted an overtake move on Schumacher at the Dry Sack corner as he braked later and held the inside line. He actually had the lead but when they turned for the corner, the German turned in on him to collide.
And finally, the fight between Hill and Villenueve in the 1996 Australian GP at Albert Park was a bit straightforward but a big one for the Canadian in his debut race. He held the lead for most part in the Williams but an oil leak helped his teammate to pass and win.
Next up will be the Top 5 F1 duels which took place between 2001 and 2010. But before that let us know some of your favorite on-track driver battles in the comments section from the 1990s era – if we get some good ones, we may do a special fan list.
The list was compiled by Manav Pallan and edited by Darshan Chokhani