When F1 team-mates fight for the title



Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost (1988/1989)

Another two-season example, and it resulted in a title each for the main protagonists in the biggest intra-team rivalry F1 has seen. Senna joined McLaren - where Prost had already won two titles - in 1988, and was rewarded for the move with the dominant MP4/4 which saw the pair win 15 out of 16 races.

Drivers could only count their best 11 results and so Senna’s eight wins to Prost’s seven proved crucial - even though Prost scored more points across the 16 rounds - with the Japanese Grand Prix the scene of the Brazilian’s first title triumph. While the relationship between the two had been tense, McLaren had the best car on the grid by some distance and both drivers knew their only shot of championship glory was in the same team, so kept the peace at this stage.

1989, however, saw matters escalate quickly. In the second race at Imola, Prost alleged Senna had broken an agreement between the team-mates that whoever led into Turn 1 should not be challenged, with Prost having managed to take the lead during a race restart but Senna overtaking him later on the same lap.

Prost started to claim Senna was getting preferential treatment from Honda as the relationship deteriorated, but five retirements for the Brazilian compared to one for the Frenchman saw Prost with a chance of winning the title at the penultimate round in Japan. Already having announced his switch to Ferrari for 1990, Prost was in ruthless mood and closed the door as Senna attacked into the final chicane. Prost retired on the spot, Senna - needing to win the final two races - received a push from marshals, pitted for repairs and went on to win the race but was later disqualified and Prost took the title as FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre also became the focus of Senna’s ire.