James Hunt was a completely unusual Formula 1 champion. He spent only 7 seasons in the royal races and reached the peak of success in only one of them, but this season recorded his name in the history of auto racing. However, the most popular gained him his manner of behavior off the track. He always found himself at the center of scandals, glamorous stories, high-profile incidents.
The racer was born in the city of Belmonte, in the county of Surrey on August 29, 1947. He was the second child. Only his sister was older than him, after him were born 3 younger brothers and a sister. From an early age he was interested in birds and animals, and also was fond of the medical profession.
These hobbies were supported by parents. In his youth, the future rider has established himself as a good athlete. At the age of 12, he only lost in the final to the sixteen-year-old other finalist when playing tennis. James Hunt also took part in the Wimbledon Junior Tournament, and established himself as a good player in squash and golf.
The beginning of the race
The first time a future celebrity car racing got behind the wheel at an early age. It was a tractor on a farm in Berkshire. But such a Hunt ride was not impressive, he could not cope with the gearbox, he was just weak for that. However, he did not give up his desire to become a successful driver. Only 7 days after he turned 17 years old, he passed a driving test and received a license. This, in his assurances, served as an impetus for a new life.
How racer James Hunt started on a Mini car. The first race spent on the Snetterton track. But the organizers refused him access to the final part of the competition, since his car did not fit the established requirements. A little later, Hunt, having accumulated a sufficient amount of money and bringing his Mini to the necessary requirements, took part in three more races. In 1968, he participated in the Ford Formula Championship, driving his Russel-Alexis Mk 14. In doing so, he lost some power due to engine malfunctions, but managed to finish fifth. After some time, participating in races, won the first victory, while showing a record time on the Brands Hatch race track.
Having earned enough money to buy a Meryln Mk11A car, Hunt in 1969 moved to the Formula 3 race. In the competitions of this series he won in a number of races, he always finished in fairly high places. He became noticeable and earned the attention of British journalists. On their behalf was awarded the prize of the year, which was awarded to promising young pilots in the UK.
The following year, Hunt was in the middle of a scandal with other racers Dave Morgan. Between them during a race at the Crystal Palace racetrack, a skirmish occurred, the cause of which was the collision of their cars and the descent from the highway. Hunt pushed Morgan with such force that something fell to the ground. The incident caused great outrage from the public. Both pilots were brought to justice and litigation, but Hunt turned out to be innocent, and Morgan was deprived of his license for a year.
Formula 1 racing
In 1973, James Hunt joined the race of the Formula 1 series with the support of Lord Heskett, the owner of his own team. Heskett for Hunt acquired the March 731 chassis, which was modified for the team’s car mechanic. Engineers and participants in Formula 1 were skeptical of Hunt and his team. By this time, the majority already had the opinion that for James and his team members only glamorous adventures with parties are interesting. However, after the start of the race with Hunt, he was able to come in second place, was awarded an award from the Formula Association for achievements in his first season.
The next two seasons in the “Formula 1 ″ for Hunt went without significant victories. At the same time, he was on the podium several times. And in 1975, he took fourth place in the ranking of pilots of "Formula 1". However, by this time, Lord Heskett ran out of funds for the team. Despite the efforts made, he did not find sponsors and left racing. Hunt found himself in a difficult situation. He desperately began to search for a place in any of the teams. He managed to get a pilot's seat in McLaren in connection with the departure of her participant.
The most successful, full of dramatic situations for Hunt was the 1976 season. The first races showed that the final struggle for the victory will unfold between Hunt and the first Ferrari pilot Niki Lauda. Since the beginning of the season, Lauda began to quickly gain points, and Hunt was unlucky. He was even disqualified in Spain, where he won. However, in the German Grand Prix, Lauda becomes a participant in a terrible accident and is forced to miss a number of races, as he received severe burns. In this regard, Hunt has a chance to rise in champion qualifications. Moreover, they remove the disqualification from him and return the taken away victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. On the track in Holland, he was able to win, thereby reducing his gap from Lauda. The fate of the champion was decided at the last stage of Formula 1 in Japan, before which Hunt was 3 points behind Lauda
Experts noted that Formula 1 did not see such a confrontation. In order to become a champion, Hunt needed to finish the track at least third. At the same time, Lauda should not get to the points zone. Tough conditions did not affect Hunt. 2 weeks before the decisive race, he and his friend Breschi occupied the Tokyo Hilton Hotel. There in two weeks they destroyed a huge amount of alcohol, mountains of cocaine, surrounded by ready-made girls of easy virtue. Witnesses said that more than thirty girls passed through James Hunt’s bedroom during that time. And this is a few days before the most important race in life.
But history judged in such a way that at the very beginning of the decisive battle, Lauda left the race. Nuremberg's nightmare was not forgotten for him, and he decided not to risk his life with virtually zero visibility. After that, many condemned Lauda, but at the same time everyone understood that it was prudence and a sober assessment of all factors that made him a true legend of motorsport. For the first time in racing history, the champion gave up his title because he did not endanger his life.
James Hunt did not win the race, coming in third. The first phrase he said after he arrived at the finish line of the race: “I want a drink!” Give me a drink! ”- and only then he began to wonder if he could finish in the top three.
Above in the photo is James Hunt, champion of the Royal Racing, who took his place of honor in the history of these competitions.
The next 2 seasons, Hunt failed. The reason for this was the problem with the McLaren machine, which did not allow to adequately participate in the champion race. He won only three victories on the Formula 1 track, becoming the fifth in the champion race. In 1978, James attempted to win his second title. However, the McLaren car seriously lagged behind other cars, for the year he won only 8 points.
Hunt left the McLaren team in 1979. Despite the fact that for 2 years he performed poorly, he was still in demand as a pilot. He was invited to the Ferrari team. However, James Hunt refused, because he did not have a personal relationship with this team. He moved to another team - Walter Wolf Racing. By that time, it was promising and was considered promising. But his car was very unreliable and slow compared to other cars. Having passed it in seven stages, Hunt ceased to be interested in this activity and said that he was leaving the Royal Race.
Commentator on BBC 2
After retiring from the race, Hunt tried himself as a commentator on the BBC 2 sports channel. He liked this work, and he became a regular commentator covering the races. He devoted 13 years to this profession, until his death on June 15, 1993, when he was only 45 years old. The cause was a heart attack.
As a commentator, Hunt did not give up his habits. Always appeared in the studio just before the start of the broadcast. I drank 2 bottles of wine during its holding. James Hunt died in his Wimbledon home. 2 days before his death, he still participated in his last broadcast. And a couple of hours before his death he offered the hand and heart to another girl.
In 2013, based on the history of the confrontation between James Hunt and Nicky Lauda , a film was well-received by viewers and critics called The Race.