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 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.
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
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.