The 25 most explosive racing rivalries: countdown

by Motor Sport on 10th December 2019

The most explosive rivalries in motor sport: including F1, sports cars, rally and motorcycling. Check back every day as we count down racing rivals from 25 to 1

Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen in the McLaren and Ferrari during the 2007 German Grand Prix

Photo: Motorsport Images

Rivalries in motor sport elevate the stakes, the excitement and the spectacle in any form. When two of the best racing rivals go head-to-head, fireworks are bound to occur.

In the latest edition of Motor Sport, we have ranked our 25 favourite racing rivalries of all-time. You can read the full list and accompanying article in the magazine now

We'll also be counting down the rivalries online, with a brief description. Click HERE to jump to the latest one, or scroll down for each one published so far.

Check back every day for another great racing rivalry but be warned; so much has been written about the likes of Senna vs Prost and Hunt vs Lauda that we've omitted these well-worn tales to highlight less obvious — but just as explosive — contests.

Our 2020 calendar celebrates the same theme, with beautiful shots from some of the most memorable rivalries in the sport's history. It's available to buy from the Motor Sport shop.


Racing rivalries: explosive contests that have shaped the sport
In the latest Motor Sport Magazine

 

25. Audi vs Peugeot (2007-2011)

Photo: Motorsport Images

From 2007 to 2011, Audi and Peugeot went head-to-head at Le Mans in a battle between major brands. In those years, the French manufacturer won just once in 2009 with Audi sweeping the rest.

Read all 25 great racing rivalries in the latest issue of Motor Sport Magazine​


Read more from our Archive


 

24. Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg (2013-2016)

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg during the 2016 Formula 1 season

Photo: Motorsport Images

After three seasons of brewing tensions and occasional contact between the pair, 2016 was the season Nico Rosberg finally got the measure of Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. It took so much out of the German, he would retire in the aftermath, leaving Hamilton to reflect on a title fight lost with no prospect of a rematch.


Read more from our Archive


 

23. Sébastien Loeb vs Sébastien Ogier (2011)

Photo: Motorsport Images

In a partnership at Citroën between two of World Rally’s greats in the modern era, the feud between the Sébastiens would result in Ogier finding a new home at Volkswagen after the relationship between him and Loeb had grown bitter.  They won 14 titles between them. No love lost though.


Read more from our Archive


22. Carl Edwards vs Brad Keselowski (2009-2010)

Carl Edwards is launched into the air after contact with Brad Keselowski at Talladega in 2009

Photo: Motorsport Images

A spectacular airborne crash for Edwards at Talladega in 2009 (above), after contact with Keselowski, was just one of the many collisions that the pair had. They required NASCAR officials to have a word with both about on-track conduct. Yes, it was too much contact even for NASCAR’s liking.


Read more from our Archive


 

21. Jim Clark vs Graham Hill (1962-1967)

Jim Clark and Graham Hill

Photo: Motorsport Images

A polar opposite from the modern intensity and tension between drivers, the 60s Formula 1 grid was a family in comparison. Clark had the pure speed, Hill a determination that bridged the gap on occasion, the pair’s friendly competition was intense on-track yet gentlemanly off of it.


Read more from our Archive


 

20. Michael Schumacher vs Damon Hill (1994-1996)

Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill moments before the crash that decided the 1994 F1 world title

Photo: Motorsport Images

A tragic 1994 season came down to Hill and Schumacher for the title. At Adelaide, the former eventually forced a mistake from the latter and opened a window of opportunity. One controversy later, Schumacher was in the barriers but as the ’94 champion, Hill also out but left without that crumb of comfort.


Read more from our Archive​


 

19. Barney Oldfield vs Ralph DePalma (1908-1918)

Photo: Getty Images

Born out of bad sportsmanship, Oldfield and DePalma’s disdain for one another would go on for a decade. Their feud extended beyond the track limits and into political manoeuvring also. A blocked Indy 500 drive is among the highlights of this rivalry.


Read more from our Archive​


 

18. AJ Foyt vs Mario Andretti (1965-present)

Photo: Motorsport Images

Both enjoyed their separate racing successes, Foyt at Le Mans, Andretti in Formula 1 though their rivalry would ignite in America. Racing as direct adversaries in NASCAR and Indycar racing, their feud has lasted the test of time


Read more from our Archive


 

17. Jason Plato vs Matt Neal (1997-present)

Of the rivalries listed so far, perhaps none has come as close to physical violence as these two touring car veterans, who were both multiple-time champions by the time their most contentious moment came during qualifying at Rockingham in 2011. How many other racing rivals can say they came close to fisticuffs on television?


Read more from our Archive


 

16. Nigel Mansell vs Nelson Piquet (1986-1992)

Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet battling at Adelaide during the 1990 Australian Grand Prix

No longer team-mates but still fighting: Mansell and Piquet at Adelaide in 1990 Photo: Motorsport Images

Their two seasons together at Williams perhaps defined both of their Formula 1 careers. The pair became fierce rivals almost immediately, as Mansell found his feet in F1 and Piquet arrived at the team. The Brazilian would take the 1987 championship despite Mansell’s better win rate.


Read more from our Archive


 

15. Porsche 917 vs Ferrari 512 (1969-1971)

Photo: Motorsport Images

A golden era in endurance racing during the late 60s and early 70s, Ferrari fighting with Porsche, 512 vs the 917. It was the start of a dominant period for Porsche while Ferrari focused efforts elsewhere.


Read more from our Archive


 

14. Tom Walkinshaw Racing vs The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (1993)

Photo: Motorsport Images

TWR Jaguar Racing crossed the line at Le Mans in 1993 to finish 10th overall and win its class. The result wouldn't stand however, as the ACO disqualified the entry post-race. Just one of the many disagreements Tom Walkinshaw had with them...


Read more from our Archive


13. Carlos Sainz vs Colin McRae (1995)

Photo: Motorsport Images

Team orders hardly make for a healthy team environment and Subaru found that out when they ordered McRae to slow so that the 1995 Rally Catalunya was won by Sainz. The Spaniard did take victory but McRae would have the last laugh in the championship that year.

Read all 25 great racing rivalries in the latest issue of Motor Sport Magazine​


Read more from our Archive


 

 

12. McLaren vs Ferrari (1976-present)

Fernando Alonso in the McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari during the 2007 German Grand Prix

Photo: Motorsport Images

A rivalry that reached a very public and bitter peak in 2007 with the Spygate scandal, Ferrari vs McLaren might have fallen away in recent seasons, but the two most successful teams in F1 history have history, a lot of it.


Read more from our Archive


 

LATEST ISSUE

January 2020
Racing Rivalries: The 25 most explosive battles between drivers, teams, cars... and families.
 

SUBSCRIBE

NEWSLETTERS

Sign up to our newsletters
The latest news, straight to your inbox – click below to sign up to the newsletter list.

SIGN UP

THE APP

The Motor Sport App
Carry Motor Sport with you, wherever you go. On iOS, Android and Kindle.

DOWNLOAD

Need to get in touch?


Contact Us