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James Hunt - a 'second-rate champion'?


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#1 rallen

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 12:12

In today's Guardian they have a feature called 'The Joy of Six' today's is second rate champions and it features James Hunt. Here is what it says about him

"James Hunt was the most deliciously perfect Formula One star: a raffishly handsome swashbuckling driver who lived the playboy lifestyle off the track, a champagne glass in hand and a woman on each arm. He was an internationally popular winner of the 1976 world drivers' championship – but his annus mirabilis was in truth a bit of a farce.

In that year's British grand prix, Hunt was disqualified for instigating the sort of dubious advantageous "accident" that would put Michael Schumacher to shame. Then in Italy, he was forced to start from the back of the grid after using illegal fuel in qualifying. After average showings in several other grands prix, Hunt was left floundering miles behind championship favourite Niki Lauda in the race for the world title. That is, until the Austrian driver's face caught fire in a horrific crash at Hockenheim.

During the ensuing weeks, with Lauda indisposed by such trifles as slipping into comas and having his last rites read to him, Hunt closed the gap at the top in his absence. Amazingly – heroically – Lauda was back racing before the end of the season. However, he understandably baulked at "dangerous" wet conditions at the final grand prix of the season in Japan and refused to complete the race. "There is a limit in any profession or sport. It is a miracle, in my opinion, that there were no fatal accidents," he said following the race.

Hunt had no such qualms and skidded recklessly around the track to scrape a third-place finish, enough to steal the title by one point from Lauda. A man who hadn't been driving, and was barely alive, for much of the season. Well done!"

Sort of seems a hatchet job despite the fact they seem to like him. Is it correct, I always thought the first lap crash at Brands Hatch was the Ferrari's fault not his, he certainly didn't seem to be treated fairly by the authorities. As for the fuel in Italy - was that shown not to be proven?

Would appreciate comments. Link to the actually artical is here - http://www.guardian....worst-champions


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#2 john winfield

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 12:41

Interesting Rallen! I haven't seen the paper today but I've read the article on the link you posted; thanks for that.

It's a feature of modern journalism isn't it, even in the broadsheets? The Guardian is full of good writers - Richard Williams for example - but others like to provoke, even at the expense of accuracy. This has become particularly true of the chattier supplement and guide sections. There are recognisable half-truths in what it says about Hunt's 1976 season but it's woefully inaccurate and unfair. I like my papers to be entertaining, authoritative and trustworthy but some editors (and it's true of television too) are too worried about us becoming bored by serious journalism, solid chunks of text, simple page layout etc. I must be getting old!

You're right about the 1976 British GP start - it wasn't Hunt's fault. Most people blame Regazzoni but, personally, I think Lauda squeezed him a bit. I was waiting just before the apex at Druids, Agfa pressed to my eye, waiting to fill the frame for that first lap shot. One Ferrari comes through ahead of a bizarre straggle, steam, cars sideways....what's going on? As far as I know Hunt didn't engineer any accident; he and McLaren were just opportunist in, having turned into the pits from Bottom Bend (bent wishbone?), taking their chance to join the restart. I think the crowd reaction made them realise they were on to a winner....



#3 Tim Murray

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 12:49

Very disappointing - I expect much better from the Guardian. As John says, they should leave motor racing topics to their excellent sports editor Richard Williams. The wretched man who wrote it shares my surname. :mad: I do hope we're as distantly related as possible.

I agree with John that the shunt at Brands was triggered when Regazzoni and Lauda touched going into Paddock. It was in no way Hunt's fault. The Italian fuel story always seemed to be a bit dodgy (and I speak as an avid Ferrari supporter at that time).

#4 P.Dron

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 12:55

Very disappointing - I expect much better from the Guardian.


Why?

#5 john winfield

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 13:01

Why?


Because it's a good paper, with an interestring, seroius histree, and it still employs some decent journalists who can do a lot better than this 'Joy of Six' rubbish....that's why!


#6 Tim Murray

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 13:02

Hear hear.

#7 Paul Parker

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 13:12

I was at Brands Hatch 1976 and it was not Hunt's fault.

In the final analysis JH was fortunate to win the 1976 championship helped by Lauda's accident but he was nevertheless quite a driver. Albeit at times inconsistent and hampered, one suspects, by his lifestyle as events finally proved.

This Guardian article is simply another example of revisionism, the rewriting of historical events to suit a favoured opinion, an uninformed (often juvenile) public or prejudice, something we are increasingly familiar with in politics. The integrity of and accuracy of this piece can be discerned by the following, quote:

"That is, until the Austrian driver's face caught fire in a horrific crash at Hockenheim."









#8 Hamish Robson

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 13:12

What an absolutely terrible piece of writing.

Note to self: Carry on not buying The Guardian.

#9 alansart

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 13:21

"That is, until the Austrian driver's face caught fire in a horrific crash at Hockenheim."


Tasteless :mad:


#10 john winfield

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 13:34

I agree....."terrible piece of writing"..."tasteless". Very true but this piece is completely unrepresentative of the quality of the mainstream sports journalism in the paper. Richard Williams, Paul Hayward, David Conn etc. all produce excellent work; their features and investigations into, for example, the F1 hierarchy, the Notts County fiasco, the Hillsborough disaster have been very good. I'll be interested to see where this piece sits in the printed paper because I can't believe Richard Williams, if he had a say in the matter, would have let it through.



#11 Mansell4PM

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 13:45

Typical of the British press - trying to knock people off a pedestal.

Note to self - I shall also continue to not buy The Grauniad (as Private Eye insist on calling it).

Lauda (to say the least!) and Hunt had problems that season, which prevented them from scoring as many points as they perhaps should have. That Hunt won the title that year when Lauda (multiple World Champion, no less, in the fullness of time) was the main opposition suggests to me that he was worthy of this championship. That Hunt still provides them with copy 34 years later seems to bear this out.

This could be generously described as a misguided article - though it does prove that Hunt still has a place in the public conciousness many years after his racing career and his subsequent untimely death. At least that's a (small) positive we can take from this.

Edited by Mansell4PM, 16 April 2010 - 13:56.


#12 simon drabble

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 13:46

What an absolutely terrible piece of writing.

Note to self: Carry on not buying The Guardian.

very funny! Hunt was everything today's drivers are not (with the possible exception of Button) - he was a legend and his put downs when commentating superb. He is, of course, the absolute antihesis of everything the Guardian stands for....

#13 kayemod

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 13:47

Hunt had no such qualms and skidded recklessly around the track to scrape a third-place finish, enough to steal the title by one point from Lauda. A man who hadn't been driving, and was barely alive, for much of the season. Well done!"


Presumably, in the judgment of this writer, Depailler and Andretti, who finished in front of Hunt were even more "reckless", which probably means that there will be another article coming soon on what an unworthy champion Mario was in 1978, his success then would probably be dismissed on the grounds of "unfair car advantage". James Hunt suffered famously from nerves before a race, often being physically sick, so overcoming hurdles like that makes him an even greater champion in my eyes. Like most on TNF, I've never questioned James' place in the list of all-time greats.


#14 Mansell4PM

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 13:49

The integrity of and accuracy of this piece can be discerned by the following, quote:

"That is, until the Austrian driver's face caught fire in a horrific crash at Hockenheim."


I would hope (for the sake of this journalist's career prospects) that this is a typo, and that instead of 'face' they meant to put 'Ferrari'.

#15 kayemod

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 13:58

I would hope (for the sake of this journalist's career prospects) that this is a typo, and that instead of 'face' they meant to put 'Ferrari'.


Makes you wonder if he meant to put something else instead of 'Hockenheim'.


#16 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 14:03

I would hope (for the sake of this journalist's career prospects) that this is a typo, and that instead of 'face' they meant to put 'Ferrari'.

There are more errors and inconsistencies in this piece. I am happy with the thought that most on TNF know better, want to know even better and disregards this.


#17 Stephen W

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 14:04

In today's Guardian they have a feature called 'The Joy of Six' today's is second rate champions and it features James Hunt. Here is what it says about him

"James Hunt was the most deliciously perfect Formula One star: a raffishly handsome swashbuckling driver who lived the playboy lifestyle off the track, a champagne glass in hand and a woman on each arm. He was an internationally popular winner of the 1976 world drivers' championship – but his annus mirabilis was in truth a bit of a farce.

In that year's British grand prix, Hunt was disqualified for instigating the sort of dubious advantageous "accident" that would put Michael Schumacher to shame.


Well the first "fact" is completely wrong. hunt was'nt disqualified for "instigating" anything.

The article then goes onto say

Then in Italy, he was forced to start from the back of the grid after using illegal fuel in qualifying. After average showings in several other grands prix, Hunt was left floundering miles behind championship favourite Niki Lauda in the race for the world title. That is, until the Austrian driver's face caught fire in a horrific crash at Hockenheim.


Now WE all know the Lauda accident happened at the Nurburgring.

It then goes on to say

Hunt had no such qualms and skidded recklessly around the track to scrape a third-place finish


I don't remember hunt skidding at all!

Personally I am glad that the Grauniad is no longer associated with the North West and as for the author of this bilge it is obvious he doesn't know his arse from his elbow.

:|

#18 john winfield

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 14:14

very funny! Hunt was everything today's drivers are not (with the possible exception of Button) - he was a legend and his put downs when commentating superb. He is, of course, the absolute antihesis of everything the Guardian stands for....


antihesis....very good...I nearly missed that one...good old Grauniad. In fact, I think the current Guardian sports writers would rather like James. There's not really much centre-left, do-gooding, self-righteous preaching in the motor racing coverage, nor the football & cricket come to that. (Polly Toynbee might do a bit in the Horse Racing or darts, I really don't know). And Frank Keating is hardly a left wing firebrand is he? And be fair, Richard Williams presented The Old Grey Whistle Test.......that's pretty cool, even better than Chris Witty's appearance in the Railway Children.


#19 Mansell4PM

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 14:20

Makes you wonder if he meant to put something else instead of 'Hockenheim'.


Maybe they couldn't spell Nurburgring? Or even got confused and thought the Nordschleife was yet another track? (I know there are possibly accents and umlauts etc. missing in that sentence, but lack of IT skills prevent their inclusion).

I must admit the crassness of the "face caught fire" comment completely drew my attention and made me miss the erroneous reference to Hockenheim.

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#20 Keir

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 14:27

The latest example of what journalism has become. Of late, I find I avoid reading newspapers alltogether as they have evolved into a cover to cover contrivance.

#21 kayemod

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 14:32

Richard Williams presented The Old Grey Whistle Test...


It would indeed be incredibly cool if it were true, but sadly for RW's street cred, I strongly suspect that was a different Richard Williams.


#22 D-Type

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 14:36

Paarticularly surprising as I thought Alan Henry was the Grauniad's motor racing correspondent.

#23 P.Dron

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 14:43

Because it's a good paper, with an interestring, seroius histree, and it still employs some decent journalists who can do a lot better than this 'Joy of Six' rubbish....that's why!


I do not suggest that either The Times or The Daily Telegraph is any better, but anyone who regards The Guardian as a paragon of journalistic integrity should remove the blinkers. Two bits of 'interestring, seroius histree' (allegedly):

An Editor who published documents illegally, on the basis that the informant's identity would not be revealed, and then revealed the informant's identity rather than taking the can himself. The informant went to prison.

An obnoxious Motoring Correspondent who was habitually drunk out of his mind on press launches, offensive to serving staff and who frequently went AWOL, did not even drive the car, and then paid a freelance to ghost the copy for him. His career eventually came to an end when he was found slumped over the wheel, 11 parts pissed, at a red traffic light.

And so on. Quality journalism.



#24 rdmotorsport

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 14:48

Paarticularly surprising as I thought Alan Henry was the Grauniad's motor racing correspondent.



I will have to be careful what I say considering my eldest is a hack at the Grauniad but it would appear little reserch went into this article and without boring everyone by making corrections just to say Hunt was just a pure natual driver with buckets of skill and control the legend in "Kojak" Grant and the late Teddy Mayer would endorse this as well as Niki himself.

Rodney Dodson.

#25 Tim Murray

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 14:52

It would indeed be incredibly cool if it were true, but sadly for RW's street cred, I strongly suspect that was a different Richard Williams.

Absolutely not. As Roger Clark will tell you, the Guardian's Richard Williams presented the first series of Old Grey Whistle Test, before 'Whispering Bob' Harris took over. There is YouTube evidence. I find it very sad that I (and John Winfield) have to try to defend a first-rate newspaper against the jibes of people who obviously haven't read it in years (if at all) purely because the Guardian misguidedly chose to print this piece of utter crap.

#26 Kpy

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 14:55

It would indeed be incredibly cool if it were true, but sadly for RW's street cred, I strongly suspect that was a different Richard Williams.

Not at all. The same Richard Willams presented Old Grey Whistle Test, and was A & R manager at Island Records. He also edited Time Out and is the author of biographies of Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and Phil Spector.

#27 jcbc3

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 15:09

... Like most on TNF, I've never questioned James' place in the list of all-time greats.


Like many here (all?) I believe Hunt's WDC fully deserved, and also think that the article is misrepresenting the 1976 season. But an all-time great? It would have to be an awfully long list for me before James Hunt showed up. But then, I am not enamoured by boorish behaviour.

#28 cheapracer

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 15:38

The Guy seems to forget there was 24 other drivers on the track including team mate in the same car and not just Lauda.

recklessly skidding in the pouring wet in a 500hp 500kg car at very high speed?? :rotfl:

#29 kayemod

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 15:56

The same Richard Willams presented Old Grey Whistle Test, and was A & R manager at Island Records. He also edited Time Out and is the author of biographies of Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and Phil Spector.


Well, that's certainly moved Richard Williams up in my estimation, impressive credentials indeed, maybe I should run everything through Wiki before I post in future. A silly slip as I have read several of the man's books. I don't think I have ever in my entire life so much as picked up a copy of the Guardian, but it looks as if I haven't been missing very much.


#30 Roger Clark

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 16:22

Absolutely not. As Roger Clark will tell you, the Guardian's Richard Williams presented the first series of Old Grey Whistle Test, before 'Whispering Bob' Harris took over. There is YouTube evidence. I find it very sad that I (and John Winfield) have to try to defend a first-rate newspaper against the jibes of people who obviously haven't read it in years (if at all) purely because the Guardian misguidedly chose to print this piece of utter crap.

Not only that, but he was a very good journalist on The Melody Maker, by some distance the best Brisitsh music paper of the time. His reputation was slightly marred by a reveiw of John and Yoko's Two Virgins album of electronic music in which in which he described at great length the musical and intellectual qualities of side 2. It was only later that it emerged that the review copy of the album had only been pressed on side 1. Side 2 really was random electronic noise.

I totally agree with Tim's comments about The Guardian and wish that people who haven't read it wouldn't comment on it. It's a pity about the Hunt article but even TNF drops its standards sometimes.

#31 john winfield

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 16:28

Roger, Tim, keep up the good work; let's club together and buy Rob a subscription to show him what he's missing. And the Two Virgins / Side Two slip; an easy mistake to make, good to know that RW was open to avant-garde music.......

#32 seccotine

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 16:33


Absolutely patheric.
Seen from France, The Guardian looks much more serious than the average tabloid, but that article is terrible.
Lots of mistakes or pure assumptions. Bad work, really.

#33 kayemod

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 16:35

...let's club together and buy Rob a subscription to show him what he's missing.


Thanks for the suggestion John, after that, I'm feeling ever so slightly 'umble.


#34 Kiboko

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 19:09

I was at the British GP in 1976 - I can remember some fuss concerning James Hunt but what sticks in my mind more than anything is how the crowd reacted - they went mad in unison at the announcement that had been made, - whatever it was - can't remember whether he was disqualified or merely the suggestion made that he might be but I can tell you the crowd DID NOT LIKE IT!!! I agree with all the foregoing comments, no way was Hunt 2nd rate, a terrible article written probably by someone in nappies at that time. By the way, I've long argued that a driver shouldn't be penalised for the errors of his team - if Hunt at any time drove a car with the wrong kind of fuel in it, it's unlikely he knew. So why even mention it.

#35 Phil Rainford

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 19:16

Some proper research would have been nice :mad:




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#36 Tim Murray

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 20:22

... can't remember whether he was disqualified or merely the suggestion made that he might be but I can tell you the crowd DID NOT LIKE IT!!!

Hunt was originally excluded from taking the restart as he'd not completed the red-flag lap. This decision was reversed when it became clear that the crowd would probably start a riot if he wasn't allowed to start. During all the hoo-ha a gang of Hunt supporters took great exception to my Ferrari T-shirt, and told me so in no uncertain fashion. At one stage I thought they were actually going to tear it off me, but they eventually moved on when I pretended that I didn't understand English. :well:

#37 bill moffat

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 20:32

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#38 Macca

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 20:41

IIRC there wasn't a rule at that time that he had to finish a lap when the race was stopped, only that he still had to be running - which he was, so when he saw the red flag while crawling along Bottom Straight he turned into the back of the pits......perfectly OK.

The fuel thing at Monza was just typical nobbling of the opposition............it was admitted later that the readings were impossible and the octane rating met the agreed standard.

Looking at that year, Lauda crashed (possibly due to a mechanical failure), missed two GPs and then wasn't fully competitive in the next (Monza).
Hunt crashed at Interlagos (mechanical failure), was disqualified at Brands and made to start at the back at Monza - so effectively missing two races - and wasn't competitive for a couple of races due to aero problems when the oil coolers were temporarily moved.
So it all panned out as far as I'm concerned, and the best combination of car/driver/reliability won.

A rubbish writer can make any story work by distorting or ignoring facts.................it's called re-writing history.


Paul M



#39 longhorn

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 20:47

I don't think that I've ever read The Grauniad. After this appalling piece I don't propose to start now.

I wasn't at the 1976 British GP as I had committed to co-drive on a local rally the same day. I wasn't, and never have been, a Hunt fan. Probably because he didn't drive one of the red cars, probably because of his boorish behaviour, and later, because of his treatment of Patrese. However, whilst he didn't cause the first corner collision at Brands, the Monza fuel ruling could not be overturned, even by the litigious Meyer, so may have been justified given that Penske were also penalised.

Hunt had been a major contender all season, won seven races (before the protests started) plus the two non championship events at Brands and Silverstone. He had beaten Lauda three times before Germany. Why would he not have beaten Lauda in more races? At the season's end he deservedly had more points than any of his rivals. There is no doubt in my mind that he was a worthy champion. But I still didn't like him.

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#40 jj2728

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 23:51

Whoa.....Lauda's face catches fire at Hockenheim?.......Hunt skidded recklessly?.....a second rate champion?.....sounds like stuff from the 'racing comments' section......

#41 Les

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 00:09

What need for the negative journalism? Its not like the author is going to be know what kind of talent it takes to win an F1 Drivers Championship, Snooker World Championship or European Cup. It seems utterly without substance and unnecessarily derogatory against other peoples (or teams) finest moments which should really be celebrated and not knocked by some dubious newspaper article.

#42 SADBATCCM

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 00:31

What need for the negative journalism? Its not like the author is going to be know what kind of talent it takes to win an F1 Drivers Championship, Snooker World Championship or European Cup. It seems utterly without substance and unnecessarily derogatory against other peoples (or teams) finest moments which should really be celebrated and not knocked by some dubious newspaper article.

At the end of the day we all like a have ago hero!!!!!!

#43 LittleChris

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 00:41


In my guise, I believe, as the first person on TNF to identify the legendary R Mutch as a prime purveyor of mid 70's written bollocks ( Search for any thread involving Niki Lauda & The Grand Prix Gladiators ) , I'd like to nominate Scott Murray ( possibly a participant in a " get your infant to randomly bash the keys on your PC / Mac & we'll get a national newspaper to publish it competition " day ) as his natural successor.

I am, however, slightly disappointed that, in the spirit of Ron ( sorry but there's only one RonNIE ) Mutch, the only picture requiring captioning in the article was of Peter Withe, a man only slightly less capable than myself and Shaggy from Scooby Doo of growing a proper beard, which, having just watched Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill from ZZTop on BBC4 depresses me no end :( .

#44 arttidesco

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 00:58

I saw James drive three times on his F1 debut in the '73 ROC at Brands where he finished an impressive 3rd in the ancient Hesketh Surtees, the following year to his first pole at the RoC and in 1976 when he took the spoils in Germany.

My feeling on James Hunts WDC victory are I am sure a little bitter & twisted as a Niki Lauda fan.

I was not present at the Brands fiasco where the Ferrari's caused the accident that led to James taking a short cut back to the pits which saw him ultimately disqualified from the British GP but I was present at the next round at the Nurburgring just a couple of corners from Niki's Lauda's accident.

To this day I can still recall the strange dread I felt seeing that plume of smoke, despite the fact no one at the time had much idea of what was transpiring much less what was causing so much smoke, I am just really grateful that Harald Ertl, Brett Lunger, Guy Edwards and Art Merzario were there to save my hero Niki's life which makes them the real hero's of the 1976 season.

Neither the rag nor the clap trap it published to day deserve any further comment, simply beyond tasteless would be doing a grave injustice to Niki Lauda and indeed all those involved in racing.

Hunt was undoubtedly talented, but what he had in equal measure was the good fortune that Emerson Fittipaldi committed professional suicide by deciding to join his brother in the Copersucar, as I remember it much like Button last year, after the collapse of the valiant Hesketh Team in it's original guise, Hunt had no idea he even had a drive until a couple of weeks before the first race in South America.

The McLaren team was caught out for having a car that was too wide in Spain (echoes of cars too big for lifts in 2010 ?) and it was only after a valid challenge that at maximum speed the tyre walls would narrow by the necessary couple of mm necessary to fall in line with the regulations.

Three drivers Hunt, Mass and Watson were found to have irregular fuel in Italy, a fact that was never disputed but fortunately after being initially thrown off the grid all three were allowed back on when first it was discovered Stuppacher (the worlds all time record slowest F1 driver) in the 'Gulf Austria is Beautiful' Tyrrell 007 had already gone home while hero's from the German GP Edwards and Mezario withdrew.

As it happened James crashed on lap 11 so maybe there was nothing left to gain by disputing the fuel irregularities.

That Hunt won the title in the rain in a race for which Niki had no eyelids with which to blink is a shame but that as they say is racing, and we can be fairly certain that had the tables of fortune been reversed Niki would have taken the same advantages that James did, they were friends until the green flag dropped as our fellow Americans like to say.

In my view Hunt was handed the championship with that incident just before Bergwerk that fortunately did not also cost Lauda his life, looking at some of the other 'petty' mistakes that were made that season it seems a tad unjust that a nearly fatal accident was the title clincher, no fan likes to see their hero's rivals fallibility so starkly punished much less their hero's.

Much has been made of James courage because his nerves were so bad he often felt sick in the cars he was driving, this show's me he was very close to the edge of his comfort zone in Formula One, having terrified myself in a couple Formula Firsts, while being perfectly happy terrifying instructors driving XR3i's at various racing schools, I can empathise with James plight.

James was undoubtedly a good champion, he took his chances, entertained and came out top and as Button found out last year that is all you need to do.

A couple of weeks after the epic season closer in Fuji, Gordon Coppock kindly took a school friend and I round the McLaren factory, James and Jochen Mass's M23 cars were still covered in muck, as they were being disassembled and prepared for a brief swan song in early 1977, this all occurred in nothing more glamourous than a unit built of breeze blocks that seemed not much bigger than half a football pitch if that on an otherwise unremarkable (it was a Saturday afternoon) trading estate somewhere near Woking, as Gordon was explaining what was going on with the M26 I caught Gordon's eye and asked him if he thought James would win the championship again in 1977 his reply was to the effect that McLaren had been lucky in 1974 & 1976 that the cards had fallen in their favour in the face of strengthening opposition and that McLaren would give it their best with reworked M26 in 1977.

Some where around 12 years later I saw James in the paddock at Brands Hatch during a formula 3 race, as we both stood at the fence watching the cars come down Graham Hill and along Cooper Straight on their way to the grid, I asked him if he was re living old glories and quite matter of factly James replied that he was there to keep an eye on a young driver Mika Hakkinen, I mentioned that I had seen Hakkinen following in Lehto's wheel tracks in FF2000, James replied 'Yes well he won't be getting a drive next year if he continues like that' he took a last puff on his fag turned and left to watch the race from the pit wall.

A couple of years later I was visiting friends out in the country near Petersfield going down a one carriage way lane in my little Citroen Beachcomber roof down radio on with not a care in the world when I saw an unlikely bright red Ferrari the lane and my mirror, I nearly crashed into the hedge when I realised it was James driving it.

When I got to my friends house I found a message for me saying that they were out attending their horses and that their kids were looking forward to coming home from school in my 2CV.

So I went to the school and there was the Testa Rossa more or less filling the car park.

I went into the school and asked after my friends kids and the secretary said they were in the class room and Freddy's Dad was reading to them I had heard Freddy's name mentioned before and thought nothing of it, popped in to the class room and who should Freddy's dad turn out to be but one James Hunt looking pleased as punch resplendent in jeans, T shirt and flip flops telling the tale of the Owl and the Pussy Cat to a completely captivated audience of 7 year olds.

And that was James Hunt world champion, race fan, and charismatic Dad, I still can't believe he has gone.

#45 ensign14

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 06:20

Three drivers Hunt, Mass and Watson were found to have irregular fuel in Italy, a fact that was never disputed but fortunately after being initially thrown off the grid all three were allowed back on when first it was discovered Stuppacher (the worlds all time record slowest F1 driver) in the 'Gulf Austria is Beautiful' Tyrrell 007 had already gone home while hero's from the German GP Edwards and Mezario withdrew.

Well, it was, according to Eoin Young there was a deliberate misinterpretation of the rules by the Italians to exclude the McLarens (there was also a suggestion that the equipment used to measure the octane rating might not have been top-notch). I still wonder if part of the reason why Merzario did not start (Stuppacher would not have been allowed to, he would have needed a 130% rule) was due to a nod and a wink to stop McLaren protesting the entire race.

Hunt's 1976 season is underrated. How old was the M23? Hunt was still winning with it when it was four or five years old - and lapping Mass, who had been nearly as fast as Fittipaldi. Lauda missed three races, I think, but Hunt effectively missed two because of Brands and Monza. And remember Hunt had been winning in the Hesketh the previous year. Nobody else ever scored points with one, even though you had Alan Jones and Jacky Ickx having a go.

#46 bill moffat

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 07:17

Well my contribution to the Grauniad article has been removed by the moderator - it was a reasonable defence of Hunt but I guess that my final comment that this represented gutter journalism touched a raw nerve.

So the message from the editorial team is - feel free to destroy the character and reputation of a worthy WDC with a web of falsehoods and outright lies in the knowledge that he is unable to defend his corner, but ensure that you protect your journalist by wiping out anything other than the mildest of criticisms. Welcome to Pravda.

#47 Tony Matthews

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 07:35

... which, having just watched Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill from ZZTop on BBC4 depresses me no end :( .

Seeing Frank Beard on drums should have cheered you...

#48 ensign14

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 07:51

And also presumably you have never shot yourself in the testicles.

#49 Tony Matthews

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 08:11

A couple of weeks after the epic season closer in Fuji, Gordon Coppock kindly took a school friend and I round the McLaren factory, James and Jochen Mass's M23 cars were still covered in muck, as they were being disassembled and prepared for a brief swan song in early 1977, this all occurred in nothing more glamourous than a unit built of breeze blocks that seemed not much bigger than half a football pitch if that on an otherwise unremarkable (it was a Saturday afternoon) trading estate somewhere near Woking, as Gordon was explaining what was going on with the M26 I caught Gordon's eye and asked him if he thought James would win the championship again in 1977 his reply was to the effect that McLaren had been lucky in 1974 & 1976 that the cards had fallen in their favour in the face of strengthening opposition and that McLaren would give it their best with reworked M26 in 1977.


Posted Image

It must have looked much like this, same place, about the same time!

Edited by Tony Matthews, 17 April 2010 - 08:14.


#50 eldougo

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 08:56

...Thanks Bill you have said it all . :up:
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