James Hunt’s son Freddie has offered an interesting insight into the relationship between his father and his “very good friend” Niki Lauda.
Lauda, who passed away on Monday, shared a friendly rivalry with Hunt throughout his career and they famously contested the 1976 World Championship, widely regarded to be one of most dramatic seasons in Formula 1 history.
Their duels on and off the track were portrayed in the 2013 film Rush, but Freddie has revealed that the pair were closer than the film depicted.
“They were very good friends,” he told Sky Sports. “I think they even shared a flat together at one point during their F3 days.
“They were just two young guys growing up through the ranks together. Niki got into F1 a little bit earlier than Dad and then Dad was close behind him and they maintained their friendship.”
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Hunt bested Lauda in the 1976 season by a solitary point at the final race in Japan, although the Austrian would go on to add the 1977 and 1984 championships to his 1975 title.
Lauda’s respect for Hunt was perhaps best summarised by the man himself in a 2011 interview when he described him as one of the very few people he liked, a smaller number he respected and the only one he had envied.
Freddie, who is a racing driver himself, also revealed that Lauda supported him during his own career.
“I first met him properly in 2009.” he said. “It was very emotional and he’s always been very supportive and given me a lot of constructive criticism which is good.
“It’s very sad to lose him, very sad indeed.”
The tributes are continuing to come in for the three-time world champion, who is considered to be one of the sport’s greatest ever drivers.
His former teammate John Watson labelled his return to racing just six weeks after his near fatal crash during the 1976 season as the “most courageous act of any sportsman”.