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From Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg to Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton’s biggest-ever F1 rivalries

LEWIS HAMILTON's career in Formula One has spanned 14 incredible years.

During that time he has banged wheels with some of F1's best.

From Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button to Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg, Hamilton has gone wheel-to-wheel with some impressive drivers.

Here, SunSport looks at the six-time world champion's biggest rivals since he made his debut in 2007.

FERNANDO ALONSO

The Background

McLaren's dream of pairing new signing, world champion Fernando Alonso, with the sport's brightest young talent was tantalising back at the start of 2007.

But it turned out to be a total nightmare for the team, with Alosno quitting after only one season.

Alonso incorrectly felt Hamilton was receiving preferential treatment.

An inter-team battle for the title resulted in Kimi Raikkonen winning the world crown while Alonso's row with McLaren boss Ron Dennis was encapsulated by the 'spy-gate' scandal.

It saw McLaren thrown out of the constructors' championship and fined $100m for possessing nearly 800 pages of Ferrari information.

The Flashpoints

Where do we start?

There were numerous reports from Spain that Alonso felt Hamilton was getting extra help from McLaren.

But things boiled over at the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix.

A row over team tactics resulted in Alonso blocking Hamiton in the pits, earning the Spaniard a penalty while Hamilton went on to win.

A huge row erupted after the race that resulted in Alonso's subsequent departure.

The Verdict

Hamilton versus Alonso was one of the best Formula One inter-team rivalries.

It lacked the public display of explosion that we had previously seen with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, but this was just as toxic.

The fall-out saw Hamilton racially abused on his return to Spain, while the two went their separate ways.

Nowadays, the two have a mutual friendship with them both speaking highly of each other.

But that said Alonso has not been in a competitive car capable of fighting for wins.

JENSON BUTTON

The Background

In 2010, McLaren created a British super-team by partnering Hamilton with Jenson Button.

Button arrived from Brawn GP having just won the world title, but there was a feeling he was walking into the Lion's Den, for McLaren was very much Hamilton's team.

Many felt that he'd be crushed in the same way Alonso was, but in fact, it was the opposite.

The Flashpoints

The best bit about this rivalry was that it was all played out behind the scenes - for the most part.

Hamilton says he has never been one for mind-games, whereas it was the opposite for Button, who enjoyed the mental sparring.

Button quickly got his feet under the table and charmed the McLaren staff, while his tight-knit group of father, John, and physio, Mikey Collier, found a way to unsettle Hamilton - albeit temporarily.

Button has since explained that just when he'd thought he'd got the better of his team-mate, Hamilton would simply reboot and come back even stronger.

The biggest public fallout came on social media when Hamilton tweeted a picture of Button's top-secret telemetry during the 2012 Belgian GP.

Button was rightly annoyed and a few weeks later, Hamilton accused the fellow Brit of unfollowing him on Twitter.

The somewhat petty row was diffused when Button said publicly that he never followed him in the first place.

The Verdict

After a total of 58 races, it was Button who edged this battle.

He had taken a total of 672 points compared to Hamilton's tally of 657.

For the best part, their rivalry was fun and relatively easy for McLaren to manage.

Since retiring from F1, Button has spoken at length about Hamilton's qualities as a race, and while they were never close as friends, there is a mutual respect between the two.

NICO ROSBERG

The Background

This time, Hamilton was the outsider, as he was joining Nico Rosberg's team for the 2013 season.

It all looked promising for Mercedes, Hamilton and Rosberg had been team-mates previously during their karting days and there was plenty of knock-about fun.

But this time, it would be very different and left Mercedes' bosses pulling their hair out as things exploded on track.

The Flashpoints

Looking at these in order, things started going wrong in Malaysia in 2013 when Rosberg was given a strict team order to stay behind Hamilton, the German was not happy.

Then in 2014, there was the wheel-to-wheel fight in Bahrain, where it later transpired Rosberg had defied team orders over a particular engine mode to stay ahead of Hamilton.

Hamilton repeated the trick, this time in his favour at the the Spanish GP to win the race, while in Monaco, Rosberg inexplicably stopped on track during qualifying having taken provisional pole.

That stopped Hamilton's final run, meaning the German was able to take pole, much to Hamilton's anger, who declared their friendship over.

Then there was the 2014 Belgian GP when they clashed again and resulted with Rosberg being booed on the podium.

In 2015, things continued to escalate and when Hamilton won the title early in the US GP, Rosberg famously threw his baseball cap in his direction while sat in the warm down room.

And in 2016, things got even worse, most notably at the Spanish GP when the two crashed into each other on the first lap.

There was also contact at the Austrian GP while in the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton controversially slowed Rosberg to boost his own chances of winning the title.

The Verdict

This rivalry was captivating. It played out behind the scenes and in public.

It ended their friendship, as the battle for the world championship put them at each other's throats.

It was excellent to report on and interesting to watch how they coped with each flashpoint.

It was also quite funny knowing that they lived in the same apartment block in Monaco, separated by just a few floors.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL

The Background

Hamilton and Vettel made their F1 debut in the same season - 2007 - but in very different circumstances.

While Hamilton was at a leading team in McLaren, Vettel made his debut for backmarkers, Sauber.

So far, their careers have criss-crossed meaning they never really went head-to-head for the title until the last few seasons.

The Flashpoints

When Vettel was winning all his four-titles for Red Bull - between 2010 and 2013 - Hamilton would often take time to praise his car, rather than the German's achievements.

But the biggest coming together came at the Azerbaijan GP in 2017 in a clear act of road rage that should have seen Vettel banned.

He deliberately rammed his Ferrari into Hamilton's Merc as they prepared for a restart behind a safety car.

Vettel was given a ten-second penalty and later apologised but finished ahead of the Brit in the race.

The Verdict

We have been denied the chance to see these two racers really go up against each other.

Red Bull's initial dominance and Mercedes' recent position as the team to beat, plus Ferrari's failure to challenge for titles means that Hamilton and Vettel now are fairly chummy.

MAX VERSTAPPEN

The Background

This is the rivalry F1 fans hope catches fire.

Verstappen has the potential to fight Hamilton for wins and his straight-talking and aggressive driving promises to keep the world champion on his toes.

The Flashpoints

Sadly, there have been few squabbles on track but there has been in their remarks about each other.

It got short-shrift from the Brit, who said: "I find it funny seeing that.

"I have just always known to do my talking on the track. I tend to see that as a sign of weakness."

The Verdict

It is an interesting one.

Hamilton says he wants more challenge for race wins, because he is not getting much in the way of competition.

But could Verstappen offer more than he bargained for?

Their dynamic over the next few years will be fascinating - providing both are in competitive cars.

Lewis Hamilton by far F1’s top earner on a staggering £42m a year

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