Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel’s coming together on the 40th lap of last weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix was yet another incident to add to the long list of teammates colliding in Formula One. As Red Bull seek to put the story to bed, Badger is prolonging the whole thing by taking a look back at a some infamous inter-team tangles from the past few decades.
Mika Hakkinen & David Coulthard (McLaren Mercedes) – Austria 1999.
DC kept mentioning it during the post-race analysis on Sunday so we couldn’t omit this one.
From pole Hakkinen led through turn one, but Coulthard sensed an opportunity as the cars headed uphill to two. DC tried to sneak up the inside, but he just wasn’t close enough. As they braked for the corner he tapped Mika’s right-rear tyre, spinning the Finn round. The whole field filed past, plunging Hakkinen to the back of the pack. Coulthard rather guiltily scampered off in to the lead.
The 1999 McLaren was a quick car, and Mika was able to fight his way back through the pack to claim third. But the race was lost for both him and the team, as Eddie Irvine’s Ferrari team used a superior pit strategy to get the Ulsterman out in the lead, leaving Coulthard a dejected second at the flag. Irvine took his second win of the season, kick-starting a title battle with Hakkinen.
“I completely misjudged the second corner of the race,” David admitted later, “I am very sorry for what happened with Mika.”
Hakkinen didn’t hold a grudge though: “Whatever happened at the second corner is no longer important and I appreciate David’s apologies.”
But Coulthard continued to rue his mistake. “Today was my nightmare scenario, not only did I take my teammate off at turn two but we came second to our opposition,” A nightmare for Coulthard, we’re surprised he even mentioned it last weekend.
Jean Alesi & Nick Heidfeld (Prost Peugeot) – France and Austria 2000
2000 was a nightmare year for the Prost team, not helped by drivers Jean Alesi and Nick Heidfeld colliding twice.
The first was in France. Heidfeld dived up the inside of Giancarlo Fisichella at the Adelaide hairpin, but in his exuberance managed to clout Alesi, forcing the Frenchman- in a French team with a French engine at the French Grand Prix- in to a spin. Unsurprisingly, Nick wasn’t asked to sign many post-race autographs.
“Needless to say, I am terribly disappointed by everything that has happened this weekend and with the result,” said Alesi afterwards. “We have to put this behind us and concentrate on the next race to score a good result”. A nice idea from Jean, but one he couldn’t follow up.
Because at the next race, just two weeks later, they did it again! Only this time Jean was the guilty party. On the 43rd lap Alesi was behind Heidfeld, and lapping quicker than his teammate. He tried a move on the German, but as was almost inevitable, ran in to Heidfeld and took both out of the race. For the team, who were already suffering the embarrassment of a very poor car, this was the last thing they’d have wanted. Still, Alesi didn’t feel it had been his fault: “I didn’t realise that he was unable to see me, and I was sure that he would let me past. I’m very disappointed”.
The Prost boys couldn’t have had a worse 2000 if they tried- and they did try pretty hard.
Christian Fittipaldi & Pierluigi Martini (Minardi Ford) – Italy 1993
In 1993 the Minardi teammates Pierluigi Martini and Christian Fittipaldi had a bizarre collision. It was the final lap at Monza, and the two cars were heading for the chequered flag. As they approached the line Fittipaldi pulled out to pass Martini, but got to close to the back of his teammate’s car. The Brazilian launched off the back of Martini’s machine, backflipped, and landed pointing the right way.
Amazingly, despite his front-left wheel hanging off and a badly damaged rear wing, Fittipaldi was able to cross the line and finish behind his teammate in 8th position. Unfortunately for Christian these were the days when points were only awarded down to 6th place, so he got nothing for his acrobatic teammate bashing display. Well worth looking for a video of.
Ralf Schumacher & Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan Peugeot) – Argentina 1997
With his two young chargers right at the front of the 1997 Argentine Grand Prix Eddie Jordan was smiling- but not for long.
Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher were running a hugely impressive 2nd and 3rd, but it was all to end in tears for the Italian. On lap 25 Fisichella made a mistake coming on to the back straight, allowing Ralf to move right up behind him. At the following hairpin they collided as Ralf attempted a very ambitious move. Fisi was out, Ralf went on to finish 3rd.
Understandably, Giancarlo wasn’t too ‘appy abut the incident: “Everyone saw what happened,” he said afterwards. “Ralf has apologized to me which implies he is admitting it was his mistake.” Ralf enjoyed his first career podium, but did indeed say sorry after the race. And how did he describe Fisichella after offering this apology? “He is very angry now.” Uh-oh.
Alain Prost & Ayrton Senna (McLaren Honda) Japan 1989
The big one. They’d fought for the title the previous year, with Senna coming out on top but this one looked like Prost’s. He held a 16 point lead with just 20 left to score, and after getting the jump on Senna at the start eked out a 5 second lead.
On lap 40 Senna sniffed a chance going in to the chicane. Neither man would back down, and both slid down the escape road. Thinking Senna had taken them both out Prost climbed from his car- title won. Senna however convinced the marshals to get him going again- title back on.
After pitting for a new nose Senna drove a stunning succession of laps and went on to win the race- but was disqualified as soon as he stepped from the car for getting a push start. Having taken the chequered flag moments earlier Senna was now barred from making his way to the podium. The title was now Prost’s. Afterwards Senna was furious.
“What I have done is done and is correct. I won the race on the track. The taste of victory was taken away, I couldn’t go onto the podium and celebrate with the crowd in the grandstands, probably my biggest fan club outside Brazil, and with my mechanics. As to the incident, that was the only place where I could overtake, and somebody who should not have been there just closed the door and that was that”. Prost, meanwhile, said nothing. The decision was upheld and he was world champion. But the bad feeling between these two would last for years to come.