The best F1 driver superteams: Senna, Prost, Hamilton, Alonso and more
The pairing of rising star George Russell with seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes has the potential to be one of motorsport’s superteams. How their relationship develops will certainly be one of the subplots of the 2022 season.
Putting two great drivers together often brings success – but it can also create fireworks that damage the harmony inside a team. Even legendary combinations that have brought titles to their teams have sometimes ended in acrimony.
PLUS: How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam
Here’s our selection of some of the ultimate F1 superteams. For this list we’ve looked at the times when two greats of the sport have found themselves in the same team, for better or worse…
Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss
Race winner Stirling Moss, Mercedes-Benz W196; second place Juan Manuel Fangio, Mercedes-Benz W196
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Wins: 5 (83%)
Titles: 1 (1955 drivers’)
Although Juan Manuel Fangio had won the 1954 drivers’ title largely driving for Mercedes, his team-mates often struggled to get the best out of the W196. The solution was to sign rising star Stirling Moss, who had impressed in Maserati 250Fs, for 1955.
The respect between the duo was obvious and they became friends. Moss was usually content to follow in the wheeltracks of his team leader, though the Briton tended to have the edge when it came to their sportscar outings. They would surely have won the Le Mans 24 Hours together had Mercedes not withdrawn following Pierre Levegh’s disastrous crash that killed more than 80 spectators.
PLUS: The greatest sportscars never to win Le Mans
Fangio won four of the six world championship F1 events (excluding the Indianapolis 500), with Moss scoring two seconds and leading Fangio in a remarkable Mercedes 1-2-3-4 at the British Grand Prix. Only the Monaco GP eluded Mercedes.
Fangio comfortably took his third world title, with Moss second, and Mercedes only missed out on constructors’ honours because that prize had yet to be introduced.
Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks
Tony Brooks, Vanwall, 1st position, drinks from a flask with team mate Stirling Moss, Vanwall
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Wins: 9 (64%)
Titles: 1 (1958 constructors’)
Moss was the number one driver when he joined Vanwall for 1957, but Tony Brooks was also one of the best drivers in the world at the time and would prove the point over the next two seasons.
Maserati’s Fangio and Moss were the only drivers to win world championship races in 1957, but Brooks scored a fine second to the Argentinian at Monaco. He also kept his Vanwall in contention at the British GP, despite injuries suffered in a Le Mans crash, before handing over to Moss to score Vanwall’s first points-paying success.
PLUS: Stirling Moss’s greatest races
Brooks was a brilliant support act in 1958, picking up the pieces whenever Moss hit trouble. That resulted in wins at three classic events: the Belgian, German and Italian GPs.
Six wins were enough to give Vanwall the inaugural F1 constructors’ crown and, had he not suffered engine failure at the Moroccan GP finale, Brooks might have been able to prevent the Ferrari team orders that allowed Mike Hawthorn to take second and deny Moss the drivers’ title by a single point.
Jim Clark and Graham Hill
1-2 finish for the Lotus team, Jim Clark, Miss US Grand Prix, Graham Hill
Photo by: David Phipps
Wins: 5 (42%)
Titles: 2 (1968 drivers’ and constructors’)
Lotus number twos often had a tricky time in the 1960s, with Jim Clark understandably tending to be founder Colin Chapman’s focus. But the arrival of 1962 world champion Graham Hill created a superteam for 1967.
Once it arrived, the Cosworth DFV-engined Lotus 49 was the fastest car of the season by a big margin, Clark taking six poles and Hill three. But reliability was a problem. The mechanically sympathetic Clark managed to take four wins but misfortune cost him the title – and Hill’s bad luck was even worse, resulting in just two second places.
PLUS: F1’s fastest failures revealed
The package was refined for 1968 and Clark led Hill in a 1-2 at the season-opening South African GP. Clark was killed in an F2 crash before the second round, but Hill picked up the beleaguered Lotus team and scored his second drivers’ title in the finale against Jackie Stewart and Denny Hulme.
PLUS: Graham Hill’s greatest races
Emerson Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson
Ronnie Peterson, Lotus 72D Ford, Emerson Fittipaldi, Lotus 72D Ford
Photo by: David Phipps
Wins: 7 (47%)
Titles: 1 (1973 constructors’)
When reigning world champion Emerson Fittipaldi was joined by highly rated and rapid Ronnie Peterson to drive the well-developed Lotus 72, Chapman had another superteam on his hands.
Fittipaldi started the season strongly with three wins and three other podiums in the first six races, but then hit trouble, not helped by a crash at Zandvoort. Peterson came on strong, but some unreliability hindered his challenge.
Seven wins (four for Peterson, three for Fittipaldi) were enough to beat Tyrrell to the constructors’ crown, but Jackie Stewart’s strong campaign meant that neither Lotus driver won the drivers’ championship.
Although Fittipaldi did not fall out with Peterson, the Brazilian felt unsupported by the end of the season and made a shock switch to McLaren, where he would win the 1974 title.
PLUS: Emerson Fittipaldi and the Lotus 72
Niki Lauda and Alain Prost
McLaren team-mates Alain Prost and Niki Lauda, pose for a team shot
Photo by: Sutton Images
Wins: 18 (60%)
Titles: 4 (1984-85 drivers’, 1984-85 constructors’)
Niki Lauda looked well set for 1984, with the John Barnard/Steve Nichols McLaren MP4/2 and TAG Porsche turbocharged engine. But then Alain Prost, thrown out by Renault, replaced John Watson as his team-mate…
The two stars, who became friends, waged an epic duel for the 1984 crown, Prost’s raw speed ranged against Lauda’s nous. Prost won more races but also suffered misfortune and Lauda pipped him to the crown by half a point at the Estoril finale.
PLUS: How Lauda won F1’s closest title battle
Lauda’s luck deserted him in 1985 and Prost was the clear team leader. Five wins saw off Ferrari’s Michele Alboreto as Prost finally took his first F1 title.
There was still time for one more great drive from Lauda before he retired, pipping Prost by 0.2 seconds to win the Dutch GP, and McLaren retained its constructors’ crown.
PLUS: Niki Lauda’s greatest F1 races
Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell
Nelson Piquet, Williams FW11B leads Nigel Mansell, Williams FW11B
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Wins: 18 (62%)
Titles: 3 (1986-87 constructors’, 1987 drivers’)
Nigel Mansell was the incumbent but two-time world champion Nelson Piquet joined Williams for 1986 expecting to be number one. Mansell’s pace gave Piquet much more of a battle than anticipated, while Frank Williams’s major road accident meant the team had more serious things to worry about.
The duel was close. Mansell took five wins and two poles to Piquet’s scores of four and two, with Mansell leading 331 laps and Piquet 242.
Mansell was set to become champion before his infamous blowout in the Australian GP finale, Piquet was called in for a precautionary pitstop and McLaren’s Prost – who had taken one pole all year and ended up leading 166 laps – snatched the drivers’ laurels by two points.
PLUS: How the 1986 Australian GP played out in the pitlane
The Williams-Honda was again the best package in 1987 and, after Piquet suffered a serious crash at Imola, Mansell was largely on top. He won six times and led more than twice as many laps as anyone else but was denied possible victories in Monaco, Germany and Hungary.
Piquet picked up the pieces and kept scoring consistently. When Mansell was put out of action by a qualifying crash at Suzuka, Piquet was confirmed as champion, while Williams comfortably took its second consecutive constructors’ title before losing its Honda engines and Piquet to Lotus.
Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna
Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4-5 Honda, battles with Alain Prost, McLaren MP4-5 Honda, into the first corner at the start
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Wins: 25 (78%)
Titles: 4 (1988-89 drivers’, 1988-89 constructors’)
In terms of results, this combination has to be one of F1’s greatest. In their 32 races together, Prost and Ayrton Senna took 25 wins (78%) and McLaren smashed the opposition to take a brace of title doubles.
But this also became the most toxic pairing on this list. After some initial skirmishes in 1988, the drivers truly fell out when Prost believed Senna reneged on a deal not to overtake into Tosa at the start of the 1989 San Marino GP.
Prost also became increasingly concerned about 1988 champion Senna’s overly aggressive on-track moves, while the Brazilian felt the Frenchman was a moaner. They could no longer work together and, despite the efforts of McLaren boss Ron Dennis, it became clear the combination would not stay together.
Prost had already announced his intention to leave for Ferrari by the time the duo infamously crashed at the Suzuka chicane, the fallout of which confirmed Prost as champion.
McLaren’s success during the period cannot be denied, but Prost’s defection to Ferrari made the Italian opposition stronger and within two years Williams had overtaken McLaren in terms of producing F1’s fastest machinery.
Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-22 Mercedes and Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-22 Mercedes go side by side on the opening lap
Photo by: Lorenzo Bellanca / Motorsport Images
Wins: 8 (47%)
This could have been similar to the Fangio-Moss pairing, only times had changed and precocious rookie Lewis Hamilton had no intention of simply following reigning double world champion Fernando Alonso.
Right from the start, Hamilton made his intentions known, diving around the outside of Alonso at the first corner of the season-opening Australian GP. There was then team orders tension at Monaco, where Alonso won, and the duo battled hard (but fair) at the United States GP, which Hamilton won.
Both tried to hinder the other during Hungarian GP qualifying, with Alonso getting a five-place grid penalty and losing pole.
Really the problem was that Alonso and Hamilton, both of whom made mistakes during the year, continuously took points off each other. They ended the year on 109 points and four wins apiece.
That allowed Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, helped by team-mate Felipe Massa to win the Brazilian GP finale, snatch the crown by a single point.
Alonso also became involved in the ‘spygate’ scandal that ultimately got McLaren excluded from the constructors’ championship, costing it the title – and $100million. So, despite having two of the best drivers in F1 history, McLaren came away with nothing – and Alonso left to rejoin Renault.
PLUS: Fernando Alonso’s greatest F1 drives
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button
Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-25
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Wins: 18 (31%)
This was a more harmonious relationship than the other recent entries on this list, largely thanks to Jenson Button. The different styles and strengths of the two drivers also gave McLaren plenty of weapons in its armoury, from Hamilton’s improvisation in qualifying to Button’s tyre preservation skills. Both were superb in the wet, too.
Many questioned reigning world champion Button’s move to ‘Hamilton’s team’ for 2010 but he won as early as round two in Australia. Button outscored Hamilton over their three years together, though Hamilton took 10 wins to Button’s eight.
Button was brilliant in 2011 and Hamilton starred in 2012, the duo also showing they could race wheel-to-wheel on several occasions.
The main reason the combination didn’t yield a title before Hamilton moved to Mercedes was that McLaren wasn’t quite able to provide a package strong enough to defeat Sebastian Vettel and Adrian Newey’s series of brilliant Red Bulls.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
World Champion Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 shakes hands with team mate and race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
Wins: 54 (69%)
Titles: 6 (2014-16 drivers’, 2014-16 constructors’)
Hamilton probably doesn’t look back fondly on his time alongside Nico Rosberg and the intra-team politics that went with it but the combination was undeniably successful. Three drivers’ titles and three constructors’ crowns – as well as 54 victories – before Rosberg retired after becoming 2016 champion are the best tallies on this list.
Hamilton joined Rosberg in 2013 and finished ahead, though Rosberg took two wins to the Briton’s one. Both were well placed when Mercedes stole a march on everyone at the start of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014.
Top 10: Lewis Hamilton’s best F1 wins
Tensions as title contenders didn’t take long to emerge, with Rosberg unhappy at Hamilton’s racecraft at the 2014 Bahrain GP, round three of the campaign. More controversy followed, including Rosberg’s was-it-on-purpose-or-was-it-not run down the escape road at Monaco that hampered Hamilton, and a clash at Spa that handed Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo victory.
Hamilton had the upper hand more often than not and took both the 2014 and 2015 titles. But Rosberg ended the latter season with three consecutive wins and put everything into the following campaign. That, combined with some poor starts and unreliability for Hamilton, was enough to bring Rosberg the title by five points in a tense finale in Abu Dhabi.
Along the way the duo had clashed again at the start of the Spanish GP, putting both in the gravel and almost certainly costing Mercedes a 1-2. Rosberg’s ham-fisted defence on the final lap of the Austrian GP also caused damage and lost points, though Hamilton survived to win.
The atmosphere in the team had deteriorated and, following Rosberg’s shock retirement, Hamilton pointed out on several occasions how harmonious Mercedes had become with Valtteri Bottas alongside him.
Four world titles and five constructors’ crowns for Mercedes with Bottas onboard between 2017 and 2021 indicate having a strong number two and fine team player can sometimes be more beneficial to a squad than having two champions with a ferocious rivalry...
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid collide on the opening lap
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
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