The golden rule in any Formula 1 team is to never have your two drivers collide with one other, and the Red Bull team kicked a very public own-goal as their two drivers, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, managed to collide while duelling for the race lead on lap 41 of Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix.
As infrequent as such instances generally are, they prove extremely embarrassing for both drivers and the team concerned, as these accidents contribute to the loss of a potential good result for both drivers on top of the risk of having both cars taken out of the race.
What is most interesting is how common these incidents have actually become of late. Look in the history books outside of the last 21 years and you will struggle to find many instances of collisions between team-mates in F1. What is equally interesting is how frequently certain individuals crop up on this list as well!
So in the spirit of being a little topical, let’s have a look at the Richard’s F1 Top-10 “Collisions with your team-mate”
10. Ricardo Zonta & Jacques Villeneuve – 2000 German GP
Colliding with your team-mate is never particularly smart, particularly in a race of high attrition and with a sprinkling of rain swiftly culling the field. Who knows, a points’ opportunity might be on the horizon if you keep your head?
Not only did he tip poor Villeneuve into a multi-360° spin, but he effectively cost himself all hope of retaining his seat with the BAR outfit beyond that season. You see, Jacques was also a shareholder in the team, and pretty much had a full say on the hiring and firing at Team
Despite bouncing back with back-to-back 6th-placed finishes at the Italian and German Grands Prix that year, Ricardo’s F1 career was all but over, save for a handful of appearances for Jordan and Toyota in the subsequent seasons.
9. Nico Rosberg vs. Mark Webber – 2006 Brazilian GP
Mark Webber makes his first appearance on the “Top-10” list as the victim of the shenanigans of his team-mate, Nico Rosberg.
Entering the final race of what was the Williams team’s worst season on record, the Grove squad was hoping to snatch seventh in the Constructors’ Standings away from Red Bull with a few points in the kitty at Sao Paulo.
In the opening lap, somehow Rosberg conspired to drill his team-mate from behind sending Mark into retirement and Nico into a massive crash later around the lap. It was Webber’s third-successive clash with his team-mate in three straight Brazilian GPs, after colliding with Christian Klien in 2004 (more on that later!) and Antonio Pizzonia in 2005.
8. Ralf Schumacher vs. Juan Pablo Montoya – 2002 United States GP & 2004 European GP
|Not a great way to build team relations at Williams: Schumacher tags Montoya at the 2002 US GP (left) and Montoya gets his revenge with this clumsy piece of driving at the Nurburgring two years later (right)!|
Despite being team-mates for four seasons at Williams, neither Ralf Schumacher nor Juan Pablo Montoya could be described as the best of mates, and it’s highly unlikely they’d feature on each other’s mutual Christmas Card lists!
What certainly won’t have helped matters were two separate collisions between this driver pairing – much to the chagrin of the team’s management, which is loathe to such antics – at the 2002 United States and 2004 European Grands Prix.
Blame was split one-apiece for causing the respective accidents, but Schumacher and Montoya had both more than enough of the Williams environment – and vice-versa, in might be fair to assume! – with moves to Toyota and McLaren, respectively, for 2005.
7. Mark Webber & Christian Klien – 2004 Brazilian GP
Jaguar Racing’s last-ever race was supposed to be a fitting swansong for the outfit before it morphed into Red Bull in 2005, and before Mark Webber headed off to pastures new at Williams after two trying seasons trying to get the Leaping Cat actually leaping into competitiveness.
Two then have the two cars collide is the ultimate worst-case scenario. Mark Webber’s lunge into Turn 1 may have been a touch ambitious, but team-mate Christian Klien’s defence was as late and sudden as it was needless, closing the door on his team-mate as he was almost alongside the Austrian.
So it was a double-retirement for the former Stewart outfit, and the Big Cat exited stage left from F1 in a very ignominious fashion indeed…
6. Tiago Monteiro & Christijan Albers – 2006 Monaco GP & 2006 Canadian GP
Things start to get really dire when the drivers fail to learn from their mistakes the first time around, and it was very much the case in the Midland team when Tiago Monteiro and team-mate Christijan Albers collided with each other on more than one occasion!
Relations between the two drivers first took a serious hit though at the start of the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, when Christijan chopped across Tiago and shattered his team-mate’s front wing. Accordingly Albers was slapped with a drive-through penalty by the stewards and Tiago was left to recover from this battering with his race prospects now dead and buried, but perhaps the Portuguese driver could have and should have lifted, with the narrow confines of Monaco making short sprint off the starting grid an often-fraught one.
No sooner had the cars been repaired, that they were at it again, this time at the Canadian Grand Prix just two rounds later (above). Perhaps mirroring the outcome of the roughhouse World Cup football match that would happen later in the day, Portugal eliminated Holland from proceedings on the pitch and on the track. Coming into brake for the Casino Hairpin, Monteiro hit Albers from behind, and forced a furious Christijan into an on-the-spot retirement!
5. Jean Alesi & Nick Heidfeld – 2000 French GP & 2000 Austrian GP
It’s more double trouble in position five, this time between the two Prosts of Jean Alesi and Nick Heidfeld. And do they rank higher than Monteiro and Albers? By managing collide in successive Grands Prix, that’s why!
The Prost team was having an appalling 2000 season: 0 points by season’s end bottom of the Constructors’ Championship behind Minardi. The AP03 chassis was a dog, the Peugeot engine underpowered, the car unreliable, and the management and drivers constantly falling into public arguments. It was not a happy place to be.
Cue then a real embarrassment on home turf, as Nick Heidfeld succeeded in bump-spinning his team-mate at the Adelaide Hairpin trying to pass the Benetton of Alexander Wurz. In the typically Gallic fashion of the Prost team, they blamed Giancarlo Fisichella for causing the spin! More spectacular was Jean’s rather gormless spin turn right in front of the other cars as he tried to recover!
At the next round in Austria (pictured), this time it was Alesi to suffer the brain fade, trying a hopelessly ambitious move on Heidfeld into Turn 1, with the ensuing clash seeing both cars occupying familiar territory in the kitty litter.
4. Ralf Schumacher & Giancarlo Fisichella – 1997 Argentine GP
The driving partnership between Jordan’s Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher had hit new depths barely before it had even started, with the young German succeeding in knocking his team-mate out of second place and robbing the team of its first double-podium result since the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix.
Recalls Giancarlo: “The race offered us an opportunity to score points. After about 20 laps, I was second and Ralf third, when he suddenly tried to overtake me in a twisty section where you really can’t do it. He pushed me out. I was very disappointed. A double podium could have been fantastic for Jordan and for us as young drivers. Ralf did come to me and say sorry, but I know he didn’t feel sorry at all.”
Rubbing salt into the wound, Ralf would clinch his maiden F1 podium in just his third F1 race start, while Fisi was left to lick his wounds from the sidelines…
3. David Coulthard & Mika Hakkinen – 1996 Portuguese Grand Prix, 1999 Austrian Grand Prix & 1999 Belgian Grand Prix
When you have one of F1’s lengthiest driver pairings, you’re bound to trip over one another from time to time, and so David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen proved during their partnership at McLaren that spanned 1996 to 2001.
The McLaren team’s coiffured and very corporate image took the occasional dent at the hands of one of this duo, and the first incident occurred at the 1996 Portuguese Grand Prix, where Hakkinen clumsily ploughed into the back of Coulthard at the awfully slow Turns 9-10 chicane. Both drivers blame each other for that one.
The next incident was much more cut and dried at the 1999 Austrian Grand Prix. With both McLarens now enjoying the prospect of a potentially clean run to the championship without the interference of one Michael Schumacher – the German having broken his leg at the previous round in Britain – the Silver Arrows comfortably headed the race in the Styrian mountains until the second corner of the opening lap. Coulthard spotted a slight gap on the inside left open by Hakkinen, only to nerf the poor Finn into a spin that would see him drop to the rear of the field! DC would lead from Irvine, but would later lose the race when Ferrari played the better hand in the pit stop sequence. A furious Hakkinen recovered to finish third, but the mood was very frosty back in the team motorhome afterwards.
|A fraught relationship in 1999 at McLaren: David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen did their inter-team relationship no end of harm with separate collisions at the 1999 Austrian (left) and Belgian (right) GPs.|
It seems the boys still hadn’t learned from that lesson, and conspired to tag one another again at the first corner of the Belgian Grand Prix. Hakkinen crept on the grid and made a poor getaway from pole, allowing DC to have a slight lead under braking into La Source. The Finn wasn’t too inclined to surrender his place, but found himself crowded at the apex as the field came to brake for the corner, and was squeezed by DC as the two touched yet again. Coulthard would go on to comfortably win the race, while Mika finished a distant second
with a severe case of the sulks, complaining that his car’s handling had been affected by the first-corner stoush.
2. Mark Webber & Sebastian Vettel – 2010 Turkish GP
The most recent team-mate collision may turn out to be one of the talking points of the current season, bringing to a head some evident political tensions within the Red Bull ranks. In addition to this being the second time that Vettel and Webber have collided with one another (the first being at the 2007 Japanese GP when they races for Toro Rosso and Red Bull respectively), this is also Webber’s fourth collision with a team-mate in F1 and the third entry on our “Top-10” list.
When you appear this frequently on the blotted copybook, some questions are certainly bound to be raised…
1. Alain Prost & Ayrton Senna – 1989 Japanese GP
There really only could be one winner in this “Top-10” list, and this is the team-mate collision that determined the outcome of the 1989 Formula 1 World Championship.
Many of you familiar with the stories of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost will know that the relationship between these two McLaren drivers had broken down irrevocably after Prost felt that Senna had dishonoured a pre-race agreement not to challenge the leading driver’s position at the start of the San Marino Grand Prix. A season of political in-fighting and one-upmanship played out as only these two knew how came to a head at the penultimate Japanese Grand Prix.
Needing to win to keep his championship hopes alive, Senna fluffed his start and staged an impressive charge through the field to be running in second place with just 7 laps of the 53-lap race still to run. Coming into the Casio Triangle chicane, Senna made what would best be described as an ambitious passing attempt on Prost under braking. Alain refused to cede, and the two collided, sliding into the run-off with wheels interlocked. Prost got out of his car, but Senna received a push-start from the marshals to move him out of a dangerous position, pitted for a replacement front wing and then managed to re-pass the new race leader Alessandro Nannini, all before the chequered flag was unfurled!
The FIA sought to disqualify the Brazilian for receiving an illegal push-start, giving Prost his third Drivers’ Championship and certainly the most controversial of the four that the little Frenchman won.