When egos crash: Inter-team rivalry to provide gripping Formula One sideshow

Ferrari famously stick to team orders, but elsewhere drivers refuse to take a back seat. David Tremayne reports

On the surface, boxing and motor racing do not have a lot in common. But the latter is also a
mano a mano sport where you go one on one - but with your team-mate.

On the surface, boxing and motor racing do not have a lot in common. But the latter is also a mano a mano sport where you go one on one - but with your team-mate.

While this might not involve physical attack - though in the United States one year, the veteran sportscar racer George Follmer did go looking for his British team-mate Jackie Oliver wielding a mace - there have been plenty of occasions when temperaments have boiled over where two strong egos have been paired together.

In Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher has a compliant partner who works for the good of the Ferrari team, but elsewhere, thankfully, 2005 holds the promise of some explosive inter-team battles. The most likely to involve fireworks is at McLaren- Mercedes, where Juan Pablo Montoya joins Kimi Raikkonen. The Colombian made a big impression when he joined Williams-BMW in 2001, pushing past Schumacher in Brazil and heading for victory until a tangle with the back-marker Jos Verstappen. But since then the former CART champion has often been more Audley Harrison than Muhammad Ali. Relations with Williams strained to breaking point, and he departed for McLaren with a final "up yours" victory in his pocket and the nickname "Burger King" ringing in his ears on account of his apparent dislike of training.

Now Montoya weighs in six kilos lighter, is delighting McLaren with his speed and technical feedback, and is ready at last to deliver. At the same time, Raikkonen has fallen from grace with some well-documented moments of inebriated self-exposure which proved a huge embarrassment to the team as they were courting new sponsor, Johnnie Walker.

The Finn is known as "The Iceman" because of his clever method of coping with the publicity side of his job largely by muttering monosyllabically; people tend to stop pestering you after a while. Pairing him with Montoya, a voluble character who usually lets you know exactly what he is thinking, is a combination of fire and ice. Yesterday, Montoya demonstrated his fiery side, saying of Williams: "I don't know what they wanted. I was winning races, driving the wheels off the car. [Frank] Williams complained that I was overweight and unfit - he just whinged about it."

At Renault they have two surgically precise drivers in Fernando Alonso and the returning Giancarlo Fisichella, who will challenge one another with great finesse. The Spaniard was the sensation of 2003, only his second season of Formula One, and is the youngest-ever grand prix winner. Fisichella is the veteran who remains unaccountably underrated.

After starting his career with Minardi (as Alonso would) in 1996 and then starring for Jordan before joining Renault, he sank as low as Jordan in 2002. Drivers do not normally come back from that sort of knock-out, but a year with Sauber in 2004 enabled Fisichella to remind people of his sheer class. How he and Alonso cope with one another is going to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the season, given that their characters appear to be so similar.

The other great contest is at Williams-BMW. Desperate to forget the draining acrimony of the four-year pairing of Montoya and Ralf Schumacher, they now have the popular Mr Clean Mark Webber and the introverted Nick Heidfeld. The Australian Webber is a brilliant team player and motivator who gives his best at all times and has done everything but prove his ultimate speed. Heidfeld shuffles along like a reluctant kid on his way to school, but is a tough little racer who has grabbed this final chance with both hands, having also sunk as low as Jordan. Raikkonen was his nemesis at Sauber in 2001. Even though Heidfeld, in his sophomore year, had a better season than the rookie Raikkonen, McLaren ignored its long-standing young driver deal with him and plumped instead for the Finn.

If you believe paddock gossip, Heidfeld only got the nod over the Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia because of BMW; Frank Williams and Patrick Head say it was his experience and technical knowledge. Be that as it may, word during the final tests was that Webber had let his chin drop because of the poor performance of the new car, and that Heidfeld has already crept into his head.

Time will be the true judge. Just be thankful that McLaren, Renault and Williams do not share Ferrari's obsession with team orders.

* Ferrari are refusing to back down in a row with Minardi over allowing the team to use last year's cars in the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. Minardi say they have not been able to afford to comply with new rules aimed at slowing cars down. They can race if all the other teams approve, and only Ferrari have refused their consent.


Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio
Mercedes, 1954-55
Master and pupil, unlimited mutual respect

Jim Clark and Graham Hill
Lotus, 1967-68
Scottish superstar, British bulldog, deep-rooted friendship

Emerson Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson
Lotus, 1973
Friends on the surface, deep-running tensions beneath

Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson
Lotus, 1978
Andretti the champion, ill-fated Peterson the swift prodigal son

Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter
Ferrari, 1979-80
Two stars, mutual respect, outstanding honour from Villeneuve

Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet
Williams, 1986-87
Complete antipathy, but it never boiled over

Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost
McLaren, 1988-89
Two kings, one crown, and the most acrimonious partnership in motor racing's history

Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsSchool leaver's pic YouTube video features staging of a playground gun massacre
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Robyn Lawley
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star