These days, F1 duels are rare to find. Any F1 fan anticipates the outcome of the smallest scrap. Who will be on top? Will they collide? It certainly takes some courage to duel with another driver with the FIA ready to impose any penalty. Formula One has witnessed some breathtaking duels in the past. They still serve a benchmark for racing. Wheel to wheel and without pushing the other off the track or even crashing.
Here we present you some of the finest duels in the history of Formula One:
Finest F1 Duels
René Arnoux x Gilles Villeneuve
Dijon-Prenois wasn’t the most common racing destination in France, having hosted the French GP only two times before that year. With only 3.800m, it was quite tight to Formula 1 standards. It had a very characteristic layout with fast flowing corners, where overtaking would be difficult. Nobody told Renè Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuve that. The former drove the yet to be reliable and powerful Renault Turbo. The latter came to the circus with the reputation of the next big thing. Under him was the same Ferrari that would give Jody Scheckter the title later on. Nobody even remembered that another Renault driver was on pole – Jean-Pierre Jabouille. That’s where he remained from lights to flag to give Renault its first win (and also to a turbo engine). Arnoux and Villeneuve diced on what is reminded at Formula 1’s most intense duel. All this unfolded behind Jabouille. The Frenchman started second and, on that circuit, his turbo had an edge against Villeneuve’s aspirated engine. Should be an unequal battle, but it wasn’t. The Canadian had the better of his rival on the start, and was brave enough to prevent Arnoux once. If someone still needed a hint of Villeneuve’s talent, it came when he braked way ahead of the right point, wheels smoking, to regain the place.
So much would still follow. Side by side they went, touching wheels, going ahead of the track limits, almost defying Physics. Every corner became a place to try, every little mistake or line change the password to be attacked. And Villeneuve dived breathlessly to finally give Arnoux no reply. Only three tenths split them on the chequered flag, but it was clear that they knew it was a masterpiece. No place for protests, discussions or something like. It was a fine F1 duel, Formula One at its best.