Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen and five F1 title battles after British Grand Prix crash

British Grand Prix: A preview lap of the race track

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As Max Verstappen was sent careering into the barrier at Copse corner during Sunday’s British Grand Prix, there was a collective gasp from the 140,000 fans at the circuit. There is no doubt the millions watching at home around the world echoed their sentiment too.

What they were witnessing was a historic clash and potentially the first blow in a new title rivalry between Formula 1’s two titans.

Lewis Hamilton attempted to defend himself from heavy criticism from the Red Bull quarters after the incident, with team principal Christian Horner slamming the move as “unacceptable” and “dangerous”.

His Mercedes car colliding with Verstappen’s RB16B at a high speed of 160mph and the incident generating an impact of 51G.

Verstappen was forced to head to hospital to get the all-clear from medical chiefs after the high-speed crash.

But the Dutchman had a clear mind when he accused Hamilton on social media of celebrating in “unsportsmanlike” fashion while he was in hospital.

JUST IN: Horner accuses Wolff of ‘unacceptable’ actions after Verstappen crash

It later emerged that Hamilton, 36, was unaware Verstappen had been taken to hospital and wished him a speedy recovery.

But not before he questioned his title rival’s “aggressive” moves on the racetrack after the two drivers had been closely fighting for the lead on the opening lap.

Hamilton went on to win the race, his eighth victory at Silverstone, after chasing down Charles Leclerc on Lap 50 and closed the gap from 33 to just eight points in the title race.

But how does their coming together compare with some of F1’s most iconic title battles?

Express Sport takes a trip down memory lane to bring you five of the best…

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Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg

With Hamilton taking the title in the past two seasons, Rosberg had to find another level to get the jump on his title rival.

And it proved to be the case when the drivers traded blows at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2016.

Rosberg got past Hamilton at Turn One to take the lead with a superb overtake around the outside.

But the Briton got an excellent exit coming off the long right-handed turn and as the drivers made their way towards Turn Four, he dove down the inside.

Unfortunately, for Hamilton his team-mate covered him off with a last-ditch veer to the right and he lost control after a trip onto the grass, collecting Rosberg as they both ended up in the gravel trap.

The clash left team boss Toto Wolff feeling “angry and upset”, with the Austrian refusing to side with either of the drivers, who blamed each other for the crash.

It set the tone for their tense battle in the championship, with Rosberg clinching his first and only title later at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost

It is widely regarded as F1’s best rivalry as two supremely talented drivers went head-to-head between 1985 and 1993.

In that time, the pair shared seven world titles — Prost winning four, Senna three — and no other title battle has produced more.

After Ron Dennis brought an all-star lineup to McLaren, the duo clashed often as they vied to become world champion — and in 1989, it all came to a head at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.

In the penultimate race of the championship, the pair collided with Prost forced to retire and Senna later going on to win. But the Brazilian was controversially disqualified for skipping the chicane, giving Prost the points advantage he needed to seal the title.

That would be the platform for several more fascinating battles and controversial incidents between the two before Senna’s tragic death at Imola in 1994.

James Hunt vs Niki Lauda

A rivalry so great it was immortalised by being made into a film titled ‘Rush’, the friendly battles between James Hunt and Niki Lauda were dramatic and action-packed.

During the 1976 championship, Hunt faced an uphill battled after being forced to retire from four of the first six races, allowing Lauda to disappear into the distance with four victories.

But it was Lauda who suffered a horrendous crash at the Nurburgring which nearly proved fatal for the Austrian, leaving him with burns to his skin and severe lung damage.

It was believed that Lauda would never race again, but he somehow found the strength to return to the cockpit of his Ferrari just six weeks after the crash.

Hunt eventually clinched the championship but conceded he would have preferred to have shared it with Lauda and the pair became friends off the racetrack.

Michael Schumacher vs Mika Hakkinen

In the 1998 season, it appeared that Ferrari were on course for another title with Schumacher in fine form.

But the McLaren hopeful Mika Hakkinen was proving to be a worthy title rival, with the pair head and shoulders above of the rest of the field in terms of class and racing craft.

Schumacher and Hakkinen shared a friendly relationship off the track and on it too, but it was the German’s crash at the British Grand Prix in 1998, which saw him break his leg, which ended his season.

It took Hakkinen until the third-from-the-last race to equal Schumacher’s points tally and he finally clinched the crown in his absence later on.

F1 fans will be glad that they avoided such an ending to the thrilling Hamilton-Verstappen battle that 2021 has produced so far.

Sebastian Vettel vs Mark Webber

What is it about team-mates and championships?

Back in 2010 it was Red Bull who, with thanks to their genius mechanical expert Adrian Newey, designed a car that was capable of dominating the field.

They had the drivers to win the title too. Vettel had been impressing at Toro Rosso while Webber was a seasoned professional, with experience racing at Jaguar and Williams.

Rather like Hamilton and Rosberg, it was difficult to pick a winner between the two with every race hotly-contested.

But it was their collision in Turkey back in 2010 which increased the hostility between the pair. Webber was out in front and being caught by his younger team-mate.

But as Vettel pulled alongside to overtake, he twitched the steering wheel to the right and was sent spinning out of the race.

While he raged on the radio, the German refused to lay blame at Webber’s feet. But it would be the first of many angry clashes on the racetrack between the two as Vettel won four straight titles.

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