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Michael Schumacher became a polarizing figure in Formula One Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

The 5 most hated Formula One drivers of all time

Formula One is an intense sport, to say the least. The fate of the participants can change in a matter of seconds, and sometimes they come with consequences more dramatic than in any other sport. While some drivers have managed to use this high-stakes environment to their advantage and emerge as the most popular F1 drivers of all time, others have rubbed a lot of fans off the wrong way.


It's also not wholly inaccurate to surmise that while success brings plaudits, too much of it can invite ire. Some F1 drivers are hated merely for being successful, but there are also those who have stirred up controversy on more than one occasion. With that in mind, we look at five of the most hated drivers in the history of Formula One.


#1. Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher in his cockpit during qualifying for the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix, 2005: Getty Images

Michael Schumacher is Formula One's most successful driver. So, how is he also a villain of the sport?


The answer lies in his questionable sportsmanship. Schumacher has undoubtedly contributed a lot to Formula One and has a huge fanbase. But his inclination towards winning by any means possible has resulted in many controversies.

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Incidents that stand out in particular include his collision with Damon Hill during the 1994 championship-decider at the Australian Grand Prix, his disqualification from the 1997 title race for trying the same thing with Jacques Villeneuve, and the unscheduled parking of his car at the end of the 2006 Monaco GP qualifying session in an effort to bring out the local yellow flag and prevent Fernando Alonso from bettering his laptime.


These incidents have blighted his otherwise impressive career and, to this day, many fans continue to call him out on these actions whenever his name comes up on the all-time greats' lists.

#2. Nelson Piquet

Nelson Piquet during practice at Brands Hatch Circuit, UK, 1983: Getty Images

Three-time world champion Nelson Piquet was known for his practical jokes on his fellow Formula One drivers throughout his career. But that didn't win him many points in the fraternity, as his rough behavior on and off the circuit were often inappropriate.

For instance, he once called his fellow Brazilian, Ayrton Senna, a "Sao Paulo taxi driver" for being two seconds slower than him. He also infamously referred to Nigel Mansell as an "uneducated blockhead" and insulted Mansell’s wife.

Another turning point for the image of this Formula One Champion was his infamous spat with Eliseo Salazar in the 1982 German Grand Prix, where Piquet punched Salazar after their cars collided and came to a stop.

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#3 Alain Prost

Alain Prost during practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, 1990: Getty Images

Alain Prost or 'The Professor', as he was known for his meticulous and no-compromise approach, sometimes invited the ire of his teams for his high standards. The charismatic Frenchman has won four championships but was also let go by teams on two occasions - Renault in 1983 and Ferrari in 1990 - after he criticized them.

However, the dislike for Prost really flared up following his rivalry with fan-favourite Ayrton Senna. The two came together in the 1989 season-finale in Suzuka, and the governing body, led by another Frenchman, Jean-Marie Balestre, decided to penalize Senna, thus awarding the championship to Prost.

A few years later, when Prost joined the dominant Williams outfit, he specifically had a clause included in his contract that prevented Senna from joining him as teammate.

Their bitter feud was captured in the 'Senna' documentary, which increased the criticism surrounding Prost's behavior.

#4. Andrea de Cesaris

Andrea de Cesaris during practice for the British Grand Prix, 1991. Photo: Getty Images

Italian driver Andrea de Cesaris was a clumsy fellow who everyone loved to hate. However, he didn't need controversies for people to dislike him; his on-track misadventures were enough to earn him his badge of dishonor.

De Cesaris was famous for ruining others' races with his erroneous driving, earning him the nickname of 'Andrea de Crasheris'. Although his Marlboro funding kept him in Formula One for a long time, in 1985, he was sacked by Ligier for causing an accident during the Australian Grand Prix. Even after that, he continued in the sport till his eventual retirement in 1994.

# Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve (C) of Canada sprays champagne after winning the Hungarian Grand Prix August 1997 with second-placed Damon Hill (L) and third-placed Johnny Herbert: Getty Images

Jacques Villeneuve succeeded early on in his career and then slowly fizzled out. But his follow-up career as a Formula One pundit really hasn't sat well with fans, given his colorful comments and outrageous takes on the state of the sport.

While he speaks sensibly for the most part, occasionally, his hot takes seem completely unnecessary and made at others' expense.

His infamous comment about Williams driver Robert Kubica, where he said, "It is not good for the sport if anyone with a disability can participate. At least not in Formula 1, perhaps in other classes," was heavily panned.

That has clearly not deterred the Canadian, as he continues expressing his opinions freely, earning him both fans and haters alike.

Edited by
Sandeep Banerjee
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