This week’s Badgerometer takes the rule change for defending into account, and looks back at the best wheel-to-wheel battles we’ve ever seen!
Robert Kubica vs Felipe Massa
The first entry is set in the wet at Fuji in 2007, and was on the very last lap of an already eventful Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton scored the victory to bolster his chances of taking the World Championship on his very first try, but these two took to banging wheels and using every inch of the tarmac (and more!) to see who could get the better of the other for…sixth place. Yep, you read that right!
Alex Wurz vs Michael Schumacher
This encounter shows just how plucky the Austrian driver was in his early days, not giving any quarter to the German legend at Monaco of all places.
Unfortunately, the damage sustained on the Benetton by banging wheels bent the suspension slightly – something you don’t want to have out of line between the unforgiving barriers of the Principality. Wurz’s race would end a few laps later, pretty spectacularly, but luckily for him, safely.
Nigel Mansell vs. Ayrton Senna
The two heavyweights fought tooth and nail for the win, again at Monaco, early into the 1992 season. Mansell’s Williams was the class of the field and the Brit had won every race so far, but Senna knew the streets like nobody else, capitalising on a non-routine tyre stop from Mansell to take the lead.
As the laps counted down Mansell got closer and closer, but couldn’t find a way past the slower McLaren, no matter how hard he tried. Senna won, and both drivers were exhausted on the podium afterwards.
Ayrton Senna vs. Jean Alesi
If you’re going to make a name for yourself as a young racer, there is no better way than by challenging one of the best drivers of your time while sitting in inferior machinery. That’s exactly what Jean Alesi did in Phoenix for the 1990 season opener.
Thanks to an ongoing tyre war between Pirelli and Goodyear, the Italian manufacturer brought a grippier tyre for the street circuit, and the lower teams it supplied found themselves in the unusual places of the top ten. Alesi started 4th and led from the start, but the Brazilian had other ideas.
Senna passed Alesi at half distance – only for the young Frenchman to re-pass him at the very next corner! Ayrton would try again one lap later, and this time made the move stick, even though the Tyrrell snapped away at his rear wing for the rest of that lap. Senna won by only 8 seconds, and Alesi’s star shone brighter than ever.
Gilles Villenueve vs. Rene Arnoux
This, ladies and gentlemen, is classic F1 at it’s best. Many times has it appeared on highlight videos and mentioned in many of the internets “greatest ever” lists. It’s also a great display of driver’s of the era of the late ’70’s – early turbos, ground effect and huge tyres. It’s F1 at it’s fastest. And we love it!