27th Jan2014

‘Hunt vs Lauda’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf


When it comes to Formula 1 as a sport there are certain rivalries that have added drama to the seasons, even now the egos of the drivers and politics of the car companies can sometimes overshadow the action on the road.  Probably the greatest of these rivalries though is way back before some of the racers of today were even born.  In 1976 the battle for supremacy between Hunt and Lauda is still considered as one of the best rivalries to ever grace the sport.  The fact that it became a movie (Rush) and is now included in a documentary Hunt vs Lauda show the importance of this feud to the sport.

As a fan of Formula 1 racing I can name some of the biggest rivalries of the sport, such as Senna vs Prost where the relationship between these racers was anything but gentlemanly, but one thing you notice from Hunt vs Lauda is the fact that these men had mutual respect for each other even if their style of racing was very different.

Niki Lauda was a racer who was purely technical and with his Ferrari car had dominated the previous season before the enigmatic James Hunt joined McLaran and had an eye on taking the championship in 1976.  On the track it’s interesting that Lauda dominated many of the first races and looked to be taking the most important points, but Hunt soon caught up.  Through the politics of the sport though and rules Ferrari didn’t make it easy for McLaran and it’s very interesting to see the battles the two teams had not only on the track but in the court rooms too.  Then of course the almost tragic race that could have taken the life of Lauda.

The crash at the Nürburgring plays an important part in the documentary and so it should, it was the turning point of the season in 1976.  The amazing fact that only weeks after surviving the crash and being burnt badly, Lauda returned back to racing says a lot about the determination and courage of Lauda, and it’s very interesting that the documentary shows how it changed the man, in ways it made him realise that death was a possibility.  At that time of course the cars they raced in were not the same vehicles we see today that can be flung around the track with the racer themselves being able to walk away from bad crashes.  In those days there was a very real chance of death and racers were putting themselves in real risk. Lauda overcame this though and the focus that Hunt vs Lauda gives to this determination is one of the highlights of the documentary.

Where Rush adds drama and a certain amount of fictional flair to the events that led up to end of the season Hunt vs Lauda takes a more clinical look at the facts but still manages to bring in the emotion of what took place.  The fact that these were real people is pushed to the forefront, but also the feel that the championship was more important than the racers themselves was also shown in a cold way.  If Lauda had not returned that year, or had even been killed Ferrari would have just replaced him, because of course to win the championship takes priority.

For people who watched Rush and Formula 1 racing fans who want to see one of the greatest rivalries of the sport Hunt vs Lauda is an interesting documentary to watch.  Showing what actually happened using real footage and interviews from the surviving team owners and racers it gives an insight into what actually happened between the two racers and how they had a mutual respect for each other.  For those wondering, no Hunt vs Lauda may not be as good as Senna, but is still a very interesting insight into the history of Formula 1.

Hunt vs Laura is available in the United Kingdom on DVD from January 27th.  For American fans it is available now, including through iTunes.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

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