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James Hunt as a racing driver - thoughts?


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#1 rallen

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 18:24

Sorry for the slightly awkward title - but I noticed a thread recently on poor thread titles that gave no indication as to there content!

Anyway, there are a few threads on here (brilliant ones) on James Hunt and indeed whenever there is a programme on him it is riveting stuff! however the majority of it is about his Playboy lifestyle, his charisma even his budgies and his excellent commentary but no one ever seems to talk about his actual driving ability. I would appreciate if fellow TNFer's could tell me about how they rate him and what he was like as a driver without stories of his off track activities or his opinions.

I can see why the fact he was a Playboy (or seen to be a Playboy) could count against him, but he won the WDC whilst not driving the best car of the field and suffering from the politics of F1 which counted against him such as the British GP and Italian GP's. Does fact that there was enormous sympathy and admiration for Niki Lauda after his accident and the perception that Niki should have won the WDC count against him? Likewise he was known for not enjoying testing and this attitude may also count against him? Didn't he once say when McLaren were trying to get him to do some testing 'Can't we just go out there and boot it?'

However the fight he took to Lauda - regarded by many as one of the all time greats - driving the best car and with the full might of Ferrari and their politics behind him, in a car a couple of seasons old - well, he must have been pretty good and been more than just someone who went out there and booted it.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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#2 arttidesco

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 20:25

I am a Lauda fan, unfortunate enough to see Niki's championship hopes disappear in a cloud of smoke in front of my own eyes at the 'ring, but have always maintained James won the title fair and square.

As for the politics IIRC , while James was robbed of the British GP, Niki was robbed of the Spanish GP, IMHO the McLaren fiasco in Italy started when McLaren only qualified 9th and 10th, but I agree the fuel thing seemed fishy to me then as it does now.

I remember being riveted to the screen for the Japanese GP at the seasons end after Niki had retired, reasoning quite rightly that life is worth more than a championship - remember his eyelids had yet to be replaced by the plastic surgeons, watching Hunt come out of the pits in fifth place and taking the championship with some breath taking driving over two or was it three laps, that was where James earned his championship fair and square.

After that James certainly had his moments but he did not seem to have the where with all to turn the M26 into a championship contender in the way that Hulme and Fittipaldi had done with the M23, or indeed Niki had done with the 312T and 312T2.

#3 Xam

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 21:10

I am a Lauda fan, unfortunate enough to see Niki's championship hopes disappear in a cloud of smoke in front of my own eyes at the 'ring, but have always maintained James won the title fair and square.

As for the politics IIRC , while James was robbed of the British GP, Niki was robbed of the Spanish GP, IMHO the McLaren fiasco in Italy started when McLaren only qualified 9th and 10th, but I agree the fuel thing seemed fishy to me then as it does now.

I remember being riveted to the screen for the Japanese GP at the seasons end after Niki had retired, reasoning quite rightly that life is worth more than a championship - remember his eyelids had yet to be replaced by the plastic surgeons, watching Hunt come out of the pits in fifth place and taking the championship with some breath taking driving over two or was it three laps, that was where James earned his championship fair and square.

After that James certainly had his moments but he did not seem to have the where with all to turn the M26 into a championship contender in the way that Hulme and Fittipaldi had done with the M23, or indeed Niki had done with the 312T and 312T2.

James Hunt WAS a great Grand Prix driver in his prime, no doubt. This was proved even before he got the McLaren drive, when racing the Hesketh March in 73 (after only a handful of F2 races), and the Hesketh itself in 75. He did seem to lose focus somewhat after his title win, although it should not be forgotten that he was leading his first race as champion, in Argentina 77, before car trouble, and was dominant in the final race of that year in Japan. Thereafter, driving less competitive cars, he gradually lost heart. But, in his prime, one of the very best, no doubt.

#4 kayemod

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 23:11

If you want to know more about James, Gerald Donaldson's biography will tell you all you need to know. It's factually accurate, and a fair assessment of a worthy champion, highly recommended.

#5 Stephen W

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 10:16

James Hunt WAS a great Grand Prix driver in his prime, no doubt. This was proved even before he got the McLaren drive, when racing the Hesketh March in 73 (after only a handful of F2 races), and the Hesketh itself in 75. He did seem to lose focus somewhat after his title win, although it should not be forgotten that he was leading his first race as champion, in Argentina 77, before car trouble, and was dominant in the final race of that year in Japan. Thereafter, driving less competitive cars, he gradually lost heart. But, in his prime, one of the very best, no doubt.


Totally agree - Hunt was terrific in the Hesketh-March and the 308. Once at McLaren he took on the mantle of team leader as if born to it. A great driver but like so many when confronted with an inferior machine he lost interest and basically faded away.

:wave:

#6 john winfield

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 13:14

Rallen,
As Xam says, Hunt's 1973 drives more than hinted at what was to come. In the Hesketh March, tweaked by Harvey Postlethwaite, James became a real contender in the second half of the season, moving up the grid and picking up sixth, fourth, third and second place finishes. Four points finishes and two fastest laps in his first seven starts, with a car that, in its works form, was no proven winner.

I was lucky enough to see his 1973 drive at Silverstone; it was very exciting to see him reel in the leaders, mix it with Hulme, Revson and Peterson, before finishing a very close fourth. In his third GP!

John

PS "....but I noticed a thread recently on poor thread titles that gave no indication as to there content!...." Dear Bauble.....he stood out golden against the night......sadly missed.....it's all a bit quiet without him.....let's hope there is a way back.

Edited by john winfield, 29 January 2012 - 13:35.


#7 jj2728

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 13:22

As Xam says, Hunt's 1973 drives more than hinted at what was to come. In the Hesketh March, tweaked by Harvey Postlethwaite, James became a real contender in the second half of the season, moving up the grid and picking up sixth, fourth, third and second place finishes. Four points finishes and two fastest laps in his first seven starts, with a car that, in its works form, was no proven winner.


I thought the same thing too having seen him a couple of times in '73. He was a worthy champion, but once that was accomplished his interest (IMO) seemed to wane.

#8 David M. Kane

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 15:45

I thought the same thing too having seen him a couple of times in '73. He was a worthy champion, but once that was accomplished his interest (IMO) seemed to wane.


I think the Ronnie Peterson accident took the wind out of his sails. I talked to him behind the Kendall garages after Cervert's accident and he was beyond shaken. I can only imagine how the Peterson accident affect him. From the film clips I've seen his brain was ready to explode with frustration, fear and anger.

#9 kayemod

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 16:08

I think the Ronnie Peterson accident took the wind out of his sails. I talked to him behind the Kendall garages after Cervert's accident and he was beyond shaken. I can only imagine how the Peterson accident affect him. From the film clips I've seen his brain was ready to explode with frustration, fear and anger.


Towards the end, I think he was only concerned with getting out unscathed. In his recently published book, Peter Warr who was running the Wolf team at the time, tells us that James had admitted to brushing guardrails in a way that broke drive shafts, he did that very thing a few laps into his last race at Monaco. It's well known that throughout his career, he was a bag of nerves before each race, though he'd usually managed to overcome that once the flag dropped.


#10 David M. Kane

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 16:11

Towards the end, I think he was only concerned with getting out unscathed. In his recently published book, Peter Warr who was running the Wolf team at the time, tells us that James had admitted to brushing guardrails in a way that broke drive shafts, he did that very thing a few laps into his last race at Monaco. It's well known that throughout his career, he was a bag of nerves before each race, though he'd usually managed to overcome that once the flag dropped.


I agree with you 100%! :up:


#11 Doug Nye

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 21:55

James at his best was more driven than driver. Once the drive within him evaporated, the only way was out.

DCN

#12 Tim Murray

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 23:08

I think the suggestion that he went off the boil after winning the championship is perhaps unfair. In 1977 he had some good early-season races, and then once the M26 was properly sorted he won at Silverstone. After that he was always a contender, won two more races, and was unlucky not to win at least another couple. Even in 1978 he could still turn it on when he thought he stood a chance, notably in France. I think David is right - it was the Peterson accident that really knocked his confidence.

#13 Twin Window

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 01:17

James at his best was more driven than driver. Once the drive within him evaporated, the only way was out.

DCN

I wish I coud have put it that well.

I had a lot of time for James, and treasure my memories of time spent with him.

Top bloke.

#14 James Page

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 13:34

Peter Warr's book also confirms that Hunt went to the Wolf motorhome after Peterson's accident and wanted out of his contract for '79. Warr said that, at that point, he realised he probably wasn't going to get value for money from James...

Up to the end of '78, though, he was clearly one of the fastest drivers out there.

#15 Doug Nye

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 16:29

Where I - amongst many others - took real issue with Hunt was his noisy persecution of Riccardo Patrese as having been "the cause" of the Peterson collision, whereas photo evidence subsequently demonstrated what James almost certainly knew already, but could not admit perhaps even to himself, that his over-reaction under the stresses of a muddled start had been perhaps the real trigger for what ensued. His subsequent continual sniping at Patrese over many years from the commentary box - although I was no particular fan of Patrese's at that time - diminished him greatly in my estimation.

DCN


#16 rallen

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 18:53

Thanks for the reply's chaps... will def dig out the Donaldson book. Yeah from what I have read and picked up, he mainly seemed to lose focus not because of success but because of the danger and the loss - always thought of him as a fighter pilot with 'Battle fatigue'

Anyway, as an actual driver, who's style could you compare him to, who was he like technically? just so I can better understand him racing - I presume he was one of the fasted on the grid full stop rather than say more of a cunning/strategic one.

And is it fair to say he is under rated? how would he be regarded if he had been a shy tea-totaler?

#17 MCS

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 19:06

Where I - amongst many others - took real issue with Hunt was his noisy persecution of Riccardo Patrese as having been "the cause" of the Peterson collision, whereas photo evidence subsequently demonstrated what James almost certainly knew already, but could not admit perhaps even to himself, that his over-reaction under the stresses of a muddled start had been perhaps the real trigger for what ensued. His subsequent continual sniping at Patrese over many years from the commentary box - although I was no particular fan of Patrese's at that time - diminished him greatly in my estimation.

DCN


An interesting comment, especially in view of the remarks made by Patrese's Arrows boss, Jackie Oliver and Hunt's BBC TV Grand Prix colleague, Murray Walker at the TNF Nostalgia Film Show on Saturday - both concurred with your view, Doug...


#18 rallen

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 20:06

An interesting comment, especially in view of the remarks made by Patrese's Arrows boss, Jackie Oliver and Hunt's BBC TV Grand Prix colleague, Murray Walker at the TNF Nostalgia Film Show on Saturday - both concurred with your view, Doug...


How did Patrese cope with it for all those years and why did no one intervene, Patrese was a popular guy and innocent. Seems a shame that this was allowed to go on and it does reflect badly on James

#19 Jagjon

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 01:26

Peter Warr's book also confirms that Hunt went to the Wolf motorhome after Peterson's accident and wanted out of his contract for '79. Warr said that, at that point, he realised he probably wasn't going to get value for money from James...

Up to the end of '78, though, he was clearly one of the fastest drivers out there.


James Hunt.....fast! Monaco 1979. Last time he drove at Monaco, stopped the Wolf up from St Devote. he just pulled over & stopped, I think the last time he got out of a F1 car!

http://imageshack.us.../jameshunt.jpg/

Edited by Jagjon, 31 January 2012 - 01:37.


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#20 Hank the Deuce

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 04:44

How did Patrese cope with it for all those years and why did no one intervene, Patrese was a popular guy and innocent. Seems a shame that this was allowed to go on and it does reflect badly on James

Many of the profiles I've read on Patrese, although generally brief, make mention of a gentlemanly and dignified human... qualities underscored for mine, by his reaction (or lack thereof) to the endless vilification he received from James over Monza '78.


#21 David M. Kane

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 04:51

Where I - amongst many others - took real issue with Hunt was his noisy persecution of Riccardo Patrese as having been "the cause" of the Peterson collision, whereas photo evidence subsequently demonstrated what James almost certainly knew already, but could not admit perhaps even to himself, that his over-reaction under the stresses of a muddled start had been perhaps the real trigger for what ensued. His subsequent continual sniping at Patrese over many years from the commentary box - although I was no particular fan of Patrese's at that time - diminished him greatly in my estimation.

DCN


Doug you really ought to take a crack at writing! :smoking:

#22 kayemod

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 10:03

Many of the profiles I've read on Patrese, although generally brief, make mention of a gentlemanly and dignified human... qualities underscored for mine, by his reaction (or lack thereof) to the endless vilification he received from James over Monza '78.


Come on chaps, this isn't right, you aren't being fair to James here. It's true that Ricardo Patrese did come to be regarded by almost all as a 'nice bloke' both on and off the track, but that wasn't always the case, and certainly not during the earlier part of his career, which included that fateful 1978 season. Before the Italian race, the Formula 1 Safety Committee, a sort of drivers' union comprising I think Scheckter, Lauda, Andretti, Fittipaldi and James himself, had decided that Patrese had to be taught a lesson for what they regarded as his over-forceful on track behaviour, and this I repeat was a decision reached before Monza. Others will remember more, but didn't this group tell the US organisers that if Patrese's entry was accepted for the next race at Watkins Glen, then they wouldn't be racing there? This meant that Ricardo had been handed a one race ban by his fellow drivers, for what they regarded as his dubious behaviour in the races leading up to Monza, he was blamed by many at the time for the events that led to Ronnie's death, and since he definitely 'had form', he was probably the obvious scapegoat. While it's true that James was just about the last man on earth to come round to the view that Ricardo was no more than a contributory factor in the crash and not the prime cause, something for which he can rightly be criticised, that certainly wasn't the general view at the time.

#23 Doug Nye

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 10:08

Doug you really ought to take a crack at writing! :smoking:


:p Ha, sorry - I really did get a bit lost in bashing out that one...

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 31 January 2012 - 10:09.


#24 RTH

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 11:59

For all his faults and yes we know he did have some, for me there has never been a better summariser in the 'box, probably because of the loose cannon nature of his remarks. It was quite dangerous TV.
He was fearless in speaking his mind which was refreshing then and we do still miss it all the more now.
Tragic that he should die at such an early age of 46 the man who 10 years or so earlier had won ? the Superstars fitness TV series he was certainly tough determined and physically strong in those days.
Ironically at the time shortly before his sudden death he seemed to have mellowed and perhaps was enjoying motor racing and working with Murray more than ever before. He was a real character not a PR script reader.

#25 Doug Nye

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 12:38

Absolutely. He backed himself even when he was wrong. And - except in the case of politicians - why not?

DCN

#26 BRG

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 12:45

For all his faults and yes we know he did have some, for me there has never been a better summariser in the 'box, probably because of the loose cannon nature of his remarks. It was quite dangerous TV.
He was fearless in speaking his mind which was refreshing then and we do still miss it all the more now.

But can you imagine the furore that he would cause at every single race were he still with us and in the commentary box?

Even Martin Brundle's mostly coded or carefully guarded critical comments cause uproar. We would have WWW meltdown every other Sunday afternoon if James were cutting loose with trenchant comments about Kimi, or Lewis, or Fernando, or (most likely) Michael. Brundle's "you hit him in the wrong place, my friend" would have been something far stronger from James and the controversy would still be rattling around the 'web.

#27 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 13:04

As a driver the man was brilliant; gifted, determined and consummately brave (to overcome his obvious fear each time he got into the car) but above all he was an individual who towed no party line...unless it was a line to a party! Even in 1978, when he's now seen as on the decline, he was able to drag the uninspiring M26 pretty damn close to the legendary Lotus 79s on occasion. Certainly closer than almost anyone else could get all year, without a big hairdrier on the back of their car.

Watch the BBC coverage of the 1974 International Trophy at Silverstone; James Vs Ronnie, drifting at the very ragged edge through Woodcote (pre-chicane)....did F1 EVER get better than this?

It's more than motor racing , it's art. :smoking:


#28 D-Type

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 18:06

What happened at Monza has been discussed at great length on this thread. The photos have now gone, but the conclusion was that Patrese had passed Hunt before he moved across on him from the right, Hunt nevertheless swerved away swerved away and he hit Peterson who was also crowding him from the left. Patrese did not hit Hunt before Hunt hit Peterson. So if either Hunt or Patrese should be blamed it would be Hunt. As several posters have said, Hunt would not admit this to himself and continued to publicly blame Patrese.

I see no point in reopening the debate here. The real villain of the piece was the starter, whose name I forget, who dropped the flag while half the field were still approaching the grid in second gear.

#29 LittleChris

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 21:44

Duncan, the Monza starter was Gianni Restelli.

As regards the ban on Patrese for the US GP, I thought that some form of censure had been agreed before Monza but that the decision to implement a ban and the attendant threats if it wasn't upheld occurred after the events of 10th Sept 1978 ?

#30 Hank the Deuce

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 03:29

Come on chaps, this isn't right, you aren't being fair to James here. It's true that Ricardo Patrese did come to be regarded by almost all as a 'nice bloke' both on and off the track, but that wasn't always the case, and certainly not during the earlier part of his career, which included that fateful 1978 season. Before the Italian race, the Formula 1 Safety Committee, a sort of drivers' union comprising I think Scheckter, Lauda, Andretti, Fittipaldi and James himself, had decided that Patrese had to be taught a lesson for what they regarded as his over-forceful on track behaviour, and this I repeat was a decision reached before Monza. Others will remember more, but didn't this group tell the US organisers that if Patrese's entry was accepted for the next race at Watkins Glen, then they wouldn't be racing there? This meant that Ricardo had been handed a one race ban by his fellow drivers, for what they regarded as his dubious behaviour in the races leading up to Monza, he was blamed by many at the time for the events that led to Ronnie's death, and since he definitely 'had form', he was probably the obvious scapegoat. While it's true that James was just about the last man on earth to come round to the view that Ricardo was no more than a contributory factor in the crash and not the prime cause, something for which he can rightly be criticised, that certainly wasn't the general view at the time.

Don't get me wrong, I thought James was marvellous, even though his driving career was before my time as an observer of F1.

It seems well-enough documented that Patrese was considered to be something approaching a menace during at least the early part of his career, but it's equally well-known that during their time together in commentary, Murray Walker was not averse to pressing the "Patrese" button to liven James up a bit...


#31 David M. Kane

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 20:05

He wasn't the only one hot-shot up-and-coming driver to be regarded as such. Forgotten about Scheckter the troglodyte, of all people? Clay and the Lambert case? I believe Hunt himself wasn't immune either when he was coming up the ranks.

That doesn't justify the unfair treatment Patrese went through and still, after more than thirty years, some of us need to find the time to defend the obvious.

PS: I won't post anymore on this subject.


I only studied Psychology as an undergraduate; BUT I think James could never come to terms with his role in this accident. One doesn't die at 46 unless they haunted by one or more events in their life. That is just my opinion. I still adore the man as I do Patrese. The fact that Ronnie was in a spare Lotus 78 that day at Monza played a role too. Should I therefore hate Colin? I'm too old to stay mad.

Racing a F1 car of any marque in those days was very, very dangerous.

I'm moving on too...

#32 Xam

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 23:48

Where I - amongst many others - took real issue with Hunt was his noisy persecution of Riccardo Patrese as having been "the cause" of the Peterson collision, whereas photo evidence subsequently demonstrated what James almost certainly knew already, but could not admit perhaps even to himself, that his over-reaction under the stresses of a muddled start had been perhaps the real trigger for what ensued. His subsequent continual sniping at Patrese over many years from the commentary box - although I was no particular fan of Patrese's at that time - diminished him greatly in my estimation.

DCN

I do agree with you on that, Doug, James could never drop something once it became a hobbyhorse of his, whether he was right or wrong, and he gave Patrese much verbal stick from his privileged position as commentator over the years, but we are mainly talking about James's qualities as a driver in this thread!


#33 markpde

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 16:35

If you want to know more about James, Gerald Donaldson's biography will tell you all you need to know. It's factually accurate, and a fair assessment of a worthy champion, highly recommended.

According to Christopher Hilton's book 'Memories of James Hunt', the first time Hunt ever spoke to Gerald Donaldson, he said, "Donaldson, you bastard - you had me in tears!" When Donaldson asked what on earth he'd done, James explained that he'd just finished the Villeneuve biography (I think most of those who've read that book might even be able to guess what passage he was referring to). Donaldson then started working on Hunt's newspaper columns (he didn't write 'James Hunt, the Biography' until 2005, long after James had passed away), and he said, "It was a lot of work because he was extremely painstaking about it, dotting all the i's, crossing the t's, changing terminology. We worked very, very hard on his columns. Some people sort of thought he 'fluffed' off his work, but I know very differently."


#34 Tim Murray

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 17:17

(he didn't write 'James Hunt, the Biography' until 2005 after James had passed away)

The first edition of Donaldson's biography was published in 1994, but your point is still valid - it was after Hunt's death.


#35 kayemod

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 17:26

The first edition of Donaldson's biography was published in 1994, but your point is still valid - it was after Hunt's death.



It's quite hard-hitting in places, truly warts and all, nothing skimmed over and certainly not worshipful adulation, but it's none the worse for that. James comes across mostly as a genuinely nice bloke, which most on here who remember him would tell you he was.


#36 David M. Kane

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 18:34

It's quite hard-hitting in places, truly warts and all, nothing skimmed over and certainly not worshipful adulation, but it's none the worse for that. James comes across mostly as a genuinely nice bloke, which most on here who remember him would tell you he was.


Yes he was. I think all of just wish we knew why he took such exception to Patrese. We'll never really know I'm afraid.


#37 MonzaDriver

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 11:39

I wish I coud have put it that well.

I had a lot of time for James, and treasure my memories of time spent with him.

Top bloke.



Hi Twin Window
we deserve something more about your memories,
share an episode with us.

MonzaDriver

#38 David M. Kane

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 17:08

Hi Twin Window
we deserve something more about your memories,
share an episode with us.

MonzaDriver

Twin Window I 2nd that request.

#39 Rabbit123

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 23:48

Clearly James was never short of natural driving talent. If nothing else his 1976 campaign proves that. I don't care what people say about Lauda's accident, the fact remains in Formula One you have to make the most of oppurtunities as they come your way, and that's exactly what Hunt did. Besides both drivers had their share of bad luck that season.

On paper I don't think the ageing M23 should have really been winning races at all, a lot of it was to do with Hunt's natural speed as a driver. The only thing I think that counted against him was his attitude to racing. Not just his lack of interest in testing but also his general lack of focus on track, which really showed when his car became uncompetitve in 1978/79. He didn't seem to have the same commiment as the other drivers did, especially in his later years.

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#40 JacnGille

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 01:36

Twin Window I 2nd that request.


I'll "3rd" it if necessary. :cool:

#41 arttidesco

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 02:01

I'll "3rd" it if necessary. :cool:


And me '4th' .... :up:

#42 rallen

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 21:33

So is it fair to say that Hunt was a lot faster than Niki, just not as technical or as cunning and Niki had a better car?

Been reading a lot of the old threads here on Niki, none of them really talk about him being quick, just clever. You would have thought he would have had more advantage over Hunt in the 1976 season and indeed, just watched the Duke review of 1975 and was given a hard time by James in the Hesketh. A good car but not a factory car and not the amazing all conquering wonder car that was the Ferrari 312T

#43 Hank the Deuce

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 23:52

So is it fair to say that Hunt was a lot faster than Niki, just not as technical or as cunning and Niki had a better car?

Been reading a lot of the old threads here on Niki, none of them really talk about him being quick, just clever. You would have thought he would have had more advantage over Hunt in the 1976 season and indeed, just watched the Duke review of 1975 and was given a hard time by James in the Hesketh. A good car but not a factory car and not the amazing all conquering wonder car that was the Ferrari 312T

while being too young to have seen them in 76, from what I can gather, it would seem that Niki's cleverness tends to overshadow that he was pretty damned quick.



#44 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 10:33

Niki was always quick. But he had the brains and the application to match and he still had the measure of Prost almost a decade later.
But James I think was inherently faster - look at how quick he could muscle a privateer March 731 along as an F1 rookie, and very clever but over time the application ebbed away.
Perhaps we saw a little of that with Button and Hamilton in 2011? Lewis got distracted and frustrated by life in general while Jenson kept on trucking, as he had done through all those wasted years at BAR and Honda.



#45 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 12:36

Not sure about that Simon; at least until the accident Lauda was a very fast driver.
He probably didn't match Peterson when he started at March but he improved rapidly to be often quicker than Regazzoni in the BRM.
In 1974, 75 and 76 until the Ring, I would say he was on a par with Peterson. Can't check the books from where I am.

About how he tamed Prost, someone here will tell you that Watson got the measure of Lauda on the other hand, but it is easier when you are racing only to get in the points and not fighting for the big prize and - with due respect and admiration for John - 27 GP and 3 WDC don't lie.


I still perceive Hunt as the faster of the two, on his day, but certainly not every time.
But by faster I don't mean overall that he was better. Niki was more calculated, more professional in his whole approach. James had a touch of the Mike Hawthorn swashbuckler about him and like Mike didn't always have his mind 100% on the job. If you were paying the bills I think you'd have employed Niki rather than James to bring home the results on a regular basis.

I think Wattie is probably one of the great 'in only...' drivers of all time. Things just didn't go his way. A lot of people forget how bloody good he was compared directly to Niki at both Brabham and at McLaren. You'd have to say he was very unlucky not to win at least one title and if he'd have only signed up early for McLaren in 1984 when he had the chance....

#46 kayemod

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 13:33

I am not disagreeing with you. It's a good discussion, it helps reading the present. That's why we read history books.

As far as the nearly men...ask the British tennis federation...



"Come on Tim !!!"

#47 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 14:27

It's just not good enough. It comes a moment, when you have the opportunity, you've just got to win. Full stop.


Ah! if only life were as simple as that? Kicking a ball about (or hitting it with a bit of wood) are one thing, relying on the thousands of components in an F1 car to do what they are supposed to, especially back in the 70s and 80s, and not fail before the finish line, is a little different.

Far more exciting, of course!

I used to agree with the 'you make your own luck' argument but then some people do the lottery just once and win, the rest of us spend a lifetime losing and that's purely random. It's beyond any influence, skill or apptitude. It's luck.

#48 David M. Kane

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 18:04

Not sure about that Simon; at least until the accident Lauda was a very fast driver.
He probably didn't match Peterson when he started at March but he improved rapidly to be often quicker than Regazzoni in the BRM.
In 1974, 75 and 76 until the Ring, I would say he was on a par with Peterson. Can't check the books from where I am.

About how he tamed Prost, someone here will tell you that Watson got the measure of Lauda on the other hand, but it is easier when you are racing only to get in the points and not fighting for the big prize and - with due respect and admiration for John - 27 GP and 3 WDC don't lie.


My lasting memory of Ronnie was him getting smoke off his rear tire in the March 721G at Watkins Glen through the boot in the rain! :up:

#49 longhorn

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 19:54

My lasting memory of Ronnie was him getting smoke off his rear tire in the March 721G at Watkins Glen through the boot in the rain! :up:



Which, on it's own, doesn't make him fast. Could have been steam. Peterson was very quick but not particularly consistent, nor clever as a driver, though he was a crowd pleaser nonetheless, particularly Silverstone Woodcote in 1973.

Lauda was as quick as he needed to be, particularly so after his Nurburgring accident, but he certainly became an even more clever driver. We saw him at the Austrian GP in 1984 & despite gearbox problems, managed to maintain a decent pace to hide it & thus Piquet, who hadn't looked after his tyres, didn't make the tyre stop which would have won him the race.

Hunt was certainly quick, & brave too, during his early years, but the Postlethwaite engineered March & Hesketh cars were also probably amongst the better of the Cosworth/Hewland packaged cars, as was the McLaren in 1976. Afterwards, in less competitive cars, his performances were often not in the top drawer.

#50 seccotine

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 20:14

Which, on it's own, doesn't make him fast. Could have been steam. Peterson was very quick but not particularly consistent, nor clever as a driver, though he was a crowd pleaser nonetheless, particularly Silverstone Woodcote in 1973.

Lauda was as quick as he needed to be, particularly so after his Nurburgring accident, but he certainly became an even more clever driver. We saw him at the Austrian GP in 1984 & despite gearbox problems, managed to maintain a decent pace to hide it & thus Piquet, who hadn't looked after his tyres, didn't make the tyre stop which would have won him the race.

Hunt was certainly quick, & brave too, during his early years, but the Postlethwaite engineered March & Hesketh cars were also probably amongst the better of the Cosworth/Hewland packaged cars, as was the McLaren in 1976. Afterwards, in less competitive cars, his performances were often not in the top drawer.



All that is right, but don't forget 1976. On an ageing M23, Hunt did much better than his team-mate, with who he was on par before the first race of the season.
Part of his talent was to impress Mass with a few great performances. Then, having found a rythm and a motivation, he was very consistent and very good.
Why discuss that?
It also has to be said that, as a man, Hunt was very intelligent. He was smart, intense, in need of excitation, and that when he found what he needed to feel upbeat, he was great. As soon as frustration and boredom came, he was out.
But definitely a great driver, in a category of his own.