Sunday, 19 January 2014
DVD Review: Hunt Vs Lauda: Grand Prix's Greatest Racing Rivals
Originally screened on BBC4, Hunt Vs Lauda is a riveting 52 minute documentary account of the monumental 1976 Formula 1 season. The battle for number one spot between the Britain's James Hunt and Austria's Niki Lauda went all the way to the very last of sixteen races, and the drama, controversy and courage will be talked about as long as Formula 1 exists.
Hunt was part of the Mclaren team, while Lauda drove under the Ferrari banner with all its wealth and power, and was determined to stay one step ahead of his playboy rival. In fact, Lauda soon established a 33 points to 6 lead over Hunt, and by the time we reached the halfway stage at the end of the 8th race, Lauda had 52 points to Hunt's 26. Could race 9 - which took place on Hunt's home turf - be the turning point? When the race was stopped, the partisan British crowd almost rioted and practically willed Hunt to gain first place on resumption of the battle. Hunt did exactly that, although Ferarri lodged an appeal which was eventually upheld weeks later.
Now all eyes were focused on the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, where Hunt further closed the gap when Lauda's car crashed and burst into flames, leaving the Austrian close to death. Incredibly, he was back in the saddle just 40 days later, permanently scarred but ready to race for the title.
By the time we reached the final race in Japan, Lauda was just 3 points ahead and further drama was about to unfold.
It's an amazing story, told in this DVD from Delta Leisure with valuable contributions from Lauda, Daniele Audetto (Ferrari F1 team manager), Alastair Caldwell (Mclaren team manager) and James' sister Sally. Together, they paint a compelling picture of two fierce rivals who shared friendship and respect for each other during their titanic struggle. These interviews are punctuated with some terrific race footage and behind-the-scenes clips that will delight Formula 1 addicts. Throughout, the differing personalties and racing agenda's of the two men come to the fore: the late James Hunt being flamboyant on and off track, with Lauda being more reserved and adopting a scientific approach to racing.
Delta Leisure's DVD will be released in the UK on 27th January.
At this point, I'd just like to send prayers and all good wishes to Michael Schumacher, who is still gravely ill in hospital. Our thoughts are with him and his family.