Sebastian Vettel to retire from F1 at end of season
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The saga involving Oscar Piastri’s expected move to McLaren has died down somewhat in recent days, but the Aussie driver’s future in F1 is yet to be officially confirmed despite him having reportedly signed a deal with the British outfit over the course of the summer break. The 21-year-old is believed to be replacing fellow countryman Daniel Ricciardo from next year onwards in a move that is said to have soured the latter’s relationship with McLaren behind the scenes.
Ricciardo remains tied down to his current employers until the end of next season but appears to be facing the prospect of being thrown out a year early after struggling to impress over the last few months. He endured a difficult first campaign with the team and has failed to make any significant progress over the course of this year, leading McLaren to explore the idea of landing a premature replacement before settling on a move for Piastri.
It remains to be seen how the rest of the season will play out for Ricciardo, who is unlikely to be overjoyed with his new role as a seat-warmer for Piastri for the final 10 races of the year. He is not the first driver to find himself embroiled in a row behind closed doors, though, and will almost certainly not be the last.
With that in mind, Express Sport takes a trip down memory lane to revisit the highest-profile fallouts involving drivers in F1 history.
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Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg
Lewis Hamilton raced alongside Nico Rosberg on plenty of occasions during his karting days, but the pair’s childhood friendship was tested to the limit over the course of the 2016 season. The two drivers found themselves battling each other for the Drivers’ Championship title as Mercedes team-mates in a turn of events that saw their relationship become strained and, at times, led to volatile confrontations both on and off the track.
The rivalry came to a head when the duo crashed into each other at that year’s Spanish Grand Prix, with Rosberg eventually admitting that he was at fault for the incident. The German went on to have the last laugh, though, by clinching the end-of-season honours at Hamilton’s expense before announcing his retirement just weeks later.
Michael Schumacher vs Damon Hill
Damon Hill’s hopes of winning the Drivers’ Championship in 1994 were ruined in acrimonious circumstances by none other than Michael Schumacher, who wrestled with the Brit all season long before emerging victorious at the very last Grand Prix of the year. He led Hill by a single point in the standings ahead of the title decider in Australia, where Schumacher crashed into his rival to put both drivers out of the race and rubber-stamp the honours for himself.
The moment sparked no shortage of post-race controversy as Schumacher was accused of deliberately causing the collision in order to pip Hill to the top prize. The FIA found nothing untoward about the incident but plenty of bitterness seems to remain from the perspective of Hill, who has retrospectively blamed Schumacher for crashing into him on purpose in spite of the latter’s insistence that it was merely a racing incident.
Fernando Alonso vs McLaren
McLaren’s current situation with regards to Ricciardo brings back memories of their frosty relationship with Fernando Alonso, who only lasted a year on their books before his contract was terminated at the end of 2007. The Spaniard certainly did not see eye-to-eye with neither the team nor Hamilton, who was driving alongside him after being promoted following his Formula 2 triumph back in 2006.
The pair were involved in a number of controversial battles including a flare-up during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, where Hamilton disobeyed a team instruction which left Alonso at a disadvantage before the latter responded by delaying his team-mate in the pit lane. Alonso’s ill-fated spell at McLaren was eventually cut short at the end of the season but he has since cleared Hamilton of any blame by insisting that the team were mainly responsible for his problems over the course of the 2007 campaign.
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