There is huge excitement and anticipation surrounding the new F1 season which is just around the corner, especially with a new-generation car that has been created primarily to produce better, closer racing. 

F1 2021 treated us to some breathtaking on-track battles for position up and down a fiercely competitive grid, giving us a plethora of options to choose from. 

Notable battles that just missed the cut included Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s opening lap duel at Silverstone (prior to their Copse collision), Hamilton’s Brazilian battle with Sergio Perez, and McLaren pair Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo’s frantic first-lap squabble with Carlos Sainz's Ferrari in the USA. 

But after some careful consideration, here are our top three selections…

3. Hamilton vs Perez - Turkey

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On Lap 34 of the Turkish Grand Prix, Hamilton was looking to take fourth place away from Perez as he recovered from 10th on the grid after serving a penalty for an engine change. 

In wet conditions, Hamilton appeared to have made the move stick when he slipstreamed past Perez but the Red Bull driver was in no mood to back down and braked later than his rival to stay marginally ahead as the pair went side-by-side into the apex of Turn 12. 

The outside line for Hamilton soon became the inside for Turn 13 and the Mercedes driver placed his car expertly to push Perez wide (almost into the pitlane), but Perez was having none of it. 

The Mexican refused to give up and braked later at the final corner to remain level with Hamilton as they entered into a drag race along the main start-finish straight. 

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Extra grunt from Hamilton’s fresh Mercedes engine briefly gave him the edge as they accelerated towards Turn 1, but Perez crucially had the inside line for the corner and held firm to keep Hamilton behind and win this duel. 

It was a classic demonstration of hard but fair racing in supremely tricky conditions as both drivers avoided contact and kept it on the road. 

2. Hamilton vs Perez - Abu Dhabi 

In the Abu Dhabi championship showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen, Red Bull decided to keep Perez out on track when the title contenders made their first pit stops in a bid to slow Hamilton down. 

Hamilton had already opened up an eight-second buffer to Verstappen by the time he caught Perez on Lap 20 and was keen to lose as little time as possible behind the Red Bull. 

But Hamilton also had to be mindful of avoiding unnecessary contact in the knowledge that he had to stay in the race and beat Verstappen on-track to win the title. 

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Hamilton looked to have got the move done with DRS assistance on the run to Turn 8, but a clever switchback from Perez enabled him to immediately lunge back down the inside into the chicane and retain position. 

Hamilton repaid the favour coming out of the corner and onto the next straight, but now it was Perez’s turn for a DRS boost. Perez breezed back past Hamilton on the run to Turn 9 with an aggressive dive down the inside. 

Perez cleverly positioned his Red Bull through the tight and twisty final sector to cost Hamilton vital seconds. With a move around the outside at Turn 1 never really on, Hamilton was forced to be patient and wait until Turn 8. 

It was here where Hamilton finally overtook Perez and quickly shut the door on the inside to move into the lead. Perez’s dogged defence and service for his team enabled Verstappen to close right up to his rival’s gearbox and bring him back into contention. 

1. Hamilton vs Alonso - Hungary 

Two of the greatest drivers of all time went head-to-head for multiple laps in an epic battle in the closing stages of the Hungarian Grand Prix. 

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Hamilton was making his way through the field after a strategic error from his team meant he dropped to 14th after being the only driver to take the start on intermediates with the track dry enough for slicks. 

Having impressively carved his way up the order to fifth, Hamilton found a stern test in the shape of former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso when he caught the Spaniard on Lap 55. 

Hamilton found no way past Alonso around the outside of Turn 2, before being forced to back out at Turn 4.

After three laps, Hamilton had another look around the outside of Turn 2, only for Alonso to hang him out to dry again. 

On Lap 63, the pair made slight contact when Hamilton got a third run on Alonso on the approach to Turn 4 but once again could not make the move stick. 

Alonso somehow kept Hamilton at bay but a lock up from the two-time world champion under braking at Turn 1 two laps later opened the door for Hamilton, who got a much better exit out of the first corner. Hamilton was able to sneak ahead and completed the move by defending the inside line from Alonso into Turn 2. 

Alonso’s defensive masterclass in resisting Hamilton’s charge was ultimately a key factor in helping Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon secure a shock maiden victory at the Hungaroring

It was a supreme show of skill, judgement and car placement between both drivers and provided one of the standout moments from a spellbinding F1 season.