5 stories of explosive definitions in Formula 1: Piquet against the wall, the Senna-Prost duels and the controversies with Schumacher

The touch between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at Suzuka 1989. It was the day the world stopped for an instant (@ F1)

This weekend the Formula 1 will end one of its most fought championships in history, in which Max verstappen (Red Bull) and Lewis hamilton (Mercedes) arrived tied in points to the last date, something that happens for the second time in 71 years of the Maximum; the first was in 1974 between Emerson Fittipaldi (McLaren), which won the title from Clay regazzoni (Ferrari). During the 2021 championship the Dutch and the English had touches and other controversial maneuvers and this development raised the temperature for a definition that will be high voltage.

It will be necessary to see what the strategies of their teams will be, since the role of their teammates can be key, Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) and Sergio “Checo” Pérez (Red Bull). There is another point, beyond the fact that the one who wins the race will be the champion, and it is the card that Verstappen has up his sleeve: if he and Hamilton score points, the Red Bull will be consecrated because it will be necessary to tie the tie for victories and has 9 against 8 of his opponent.

This thick climate became a time machine with a history of championships that were decided with touches and with the added value of being heavyweights. The last case, when Michael Schumacher caused the incident, changed the story by the heavy penalty received by the German. Its jurisprudence set a precedent that was a hinge, although due to the conduct that both Verstappen and Hamilton had in 2021, it is a doubt that it will be applied again.

But these stories with definitions where their competitors sparked marked the category and their maneuvers are iconic images from which hundreds of versions were woven, especially the two that involved those who had the largest duel in history, Ayrton Senna vs. Alain prost.

1. Alan Jones vs. Nelson Piquet in 1980. The Australian Jones and the Brazilian Piquet they were the main protagonists. Although the oceanic with his Williams was more in the first ten dates, in the last section the South American was more competitive with his Brabham and his two consecutive victories in the Netherlands and Italy left him two points behind his rival.

They reached the penultimate date in Canada, where Piquet was the fastest in qualifying and started the race first, with Jones second. Alan knew that his opponent was stronger and after the start in Montreal, the same scenario where he ran until 2019 (absent in 2020 and 2021 due to the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic), but at that time he was starting from further back and the first meters made up a very fast sector.

Upon reaching the first corner Jones closed on Piquet, made him lose track and ended up against the wall. The race was stopped and the carioca had to resort to his spare car, which did not have the same performance and in the second game he lost to Jones and Didier pironi (Ligier). Nelson did what he could until his engine broke down on lap 23. Jones was not penalized, he won the race and was champion …

“I should have started outside to avoid his bump. But it was brutal, it hit me against the wall like a billboard. He has no excuses, he’s a total beast“, Said Piquet that day to the colleague Juan Fazzini, From the newspaper The reason.

2. Ayrton Senna vs. Alain Prost in 1989. That year the McLaren drivers were again the main protagonists, but without being as overwhelming as in 1988, when between them they were left with 15 of 16 races. The story was defined on the penultimate date at the Suzuka Racetrack, where Prost knew he was champion if they both dropped out, the same thing happens today with Verstappen.

The Frenchman led the race until, seven laps from the end, the Brazilian approached him and caught up with him before reaching the chicane prior to entering the main straight. Ayrton was on the inside side and with the best place to turn right and Alain was left on the outside, more complicated. There the Professor turned to the right before the curve and generated the contact. In the official transmission it could be seen from the aerial camera, but then a more revealing testimony appeared with a video of an amateur (final part of the video in this note) where Prost’s maneuver is clearly seen.

After the touch, they both looked at each other and not a fly flew on Suzuka. For a second the world stopped. The tension grew in the circuit and in the millions of viewers. The Frenchman left, but Senna asked the track assistants to push him, although he was later accused by the sports commissioners of cutting off the path for circulating inside the chicana and was excluded despite winning the race. The title went to Prost and Senna Ayrton was left with blood in her eye.

3. Ayrton Senna vs. Alain Prost in 1990. Due to the conflicts with the Brazilian the previous year, in 1990 the French left for Ferrari, which had the 641, a very strong car developed by the Argentine engineer. Enrique Scalabroni. Again Suzuka was the “ring” of the contest and this time Ayrton knew that, if both were left out, he was champion. Senna made pole position, but Prost started better and before reaching the first corner the Brazilian did not take his foot off the gas and took revenge from the previous year.

The touch occurred, both were left out at the beginning of the competition and walked out to different sides. “Ayrton did it on purpose because he saw that I had done better than him, that my car was better and that I had no chance of winning. Therefore, he took me off the track. What he did was more than unsportsmanlike, it was disgusting. What little friendship we had ended. I do not want to have someone around who shows one way, but thinks in anotherProst shot. For his part, Senna said that “I don’t care what he says. He chose to go that way towards the first corner, when he knew he could not come off well. I knew I was going to get inside. He made the biggest mistake of the year, closing. You know I always fight for the hole. I cannot be held responsible for the actions of others”.

4. Michael Schumacher vs. Damon Hill in 1994. That season marked by Senna’s death left Schumacher the leading candidate for the title with his Benetton and he was actually the best in the first half. But Hill was the reference in Williams and did the same in the second half and after a great triumph in Suzuka in the rain, in what was his best victory, according to the English words, he extended the definition of the title for the last date in Australia.

It was on lap 35 of the race held at the Adelaide street circuit, when Schumacher saw how Hill approached him and did a strange maneuver: in the on-board camera you can see how he moved the steering wheel in the right / left direction and first hit against the wall, bounced onto the track and met Damon, who prepared the pass at the next corner, but Schumi closed, generated the contact, his car was left on two wheels and he abandoned.

However, the left front suspension of Hill’s car was damaged, who had to abandon it and before the desertion of both, the German was champion. Schumi wielded a break in the management after the impact with the wall: “When the management did not respond to me and I had to leave I felt frustration, but then I observed that Hill was not behind Mansell (Nigel), the abandonment was confirmed by the loudspeaker and I felt like a champion, “said the German, that he was not penalized for his maneuver against the British. Schumi also knew that if they were both left out, he was champion.

Damon Hill's post on Michael Schumacher:
Damon Hill’s Post on Michael Schumacher: “He Wasn’t So Nice to Me!”

In 2017, four years after Schumacher’s ski accident – who is still fighting for his life – the Englishman made a confession about Michael on his account. Twitter: “He wasn’t that nice to me! But I forgive him. Too bad we never got to know each other better.

I didn’t expect Michael to crash me when I was going to get over itI still think that was something that was discussed with the team, because they wanted to win the championship. What would I have done in his position? I don’t know, ”Damon said in a 2019 interview he did with F1 for 50 years of the Kaiser.

“After the race I didn’t talk to him, I just congratulated him the next day, at breakfast. With the years, Michael admitted there were times when he crossed the line. Being the best was his mission in life, and he succeeded. He was incredibly competitive, he had a lot of talent and a great winning mentality. He mixed with his virtues to become invincible, “added Hill.

5. Michael Schumacher vs. Jacques Villeneuve in 1997. It was the second season of Schumi at Ferrari and had a car with good performance, but Williams With the fast Renault engine he was one step ahead with Jacques villeneuve as a banner. There was a lot of pressure from the Scuderia to cut the 18-year drought without drivers’ titles and in this pressure frame the German always moved like a fish in water.

The definition was at the European Grand Prix held in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. Schumacher came in as the leader with 78 points, one more than Villeneuve. In the previous one a milestone was reached where Jacques made the best qualifying time, and Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams) tied the record, but pole positions remained in the hands of the Canadian for having been the first to get the time.

In the game Schumacher beat Villeneuve, who also lost to Frentzen, who later gave him his place. After the pit stops, the Kaiser was back in first place, and with 22 laps to go, Michael couldn’t hold off Jacques’ attack. When reaching a curve to the right the German touched the Canadian, but the Ferrari continued straight and ended up on the bed of leca.

Schumi defected and Villeneuve, who had no damage to his car due to the Kaiser bump, was able to continue in the race and the final third place reached him to be champion. It was Williams’ last title.

Touch Schumacher-Villeneuve 1997
Sequence of the Villeneuve-Schumacher touch. The Canadian approaches the German and prepares his pass. But the TV capture speaks volumes and shows the Kaiser’s turning radius when Jacques has already passed it by half a car. Then Schumi locks his Ferrari and continues to the leca bed, where he will end up (CORSA Archive)

“I was taking care of the tires, and that’s why I let him come closer. What happens is that Villeneuve was very optimistic in his braking … If we do not collide, surely he was going outside. Everything was perfect, a fantastic race, until I was out of the championship, “said Schumacher.

“I had some concern when I beat Schumacher… I knew I was taking a big risk and he was really surprised when he turned towards me, a fact that was a little expected … I thought my car was broken because it started to feel strange from behind. I kept accelerating for a few laps, but I slowed down because there was significant wear on the tires even on the straights, “said Villeneuve.

The issue did not stop there and after the reports presented by the Race Director, Charlie whiting and the sports commissioners, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) decided to sanction Schumacher with the takes away from all the points of that season, but they respected his victories, which counted for his history.

That measure of the mother entity was a before and after, since it constituted a wake-up call for all the pilots for the following definitions. He put a limit on the track and made it clear that not everything is allowed, whoever it is. This Thursday the current Race Director, Michael Masi, warned that the FIA ​​may take measures similar to those of 1997. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton They are warned. Will they be respected?


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