I went to see the film Rush last night with Mrs F. Daughter-of-Furtheron is away on a knees up, sorry, educational trip to Paris Mrs F and I had a night out alone. Although this becoming the norm nowadays – seems only yesterday we couldn’t go anywhere without one or more kids in tow now we’re increasingly wondering where they are and what they are up to.
Anyway Mrs F knew I’d love to see the new film about the 1979 F1 championship race which Ron Howard has turned into a multi-million pound Holywood blockbuster. If you don’t know the story a brief recap…
In the blue corner you have James Hunt, mercurial British playboy who is in with a shot of his first ever F1 championship when he replaces ex-Champion Emerson Fittipaldi at the McLaren team. In the red corner the defending champion the incredibly professional Niki Lauda driving for Ferrari. The two had already derived a fierce rivalry in the lower formula which is where the film starts. (PLOT spoiler … if you don’t know the history on this then I’m about to reveal all…)
I really enjoyed the film. I was partly concerned I wouldn’t and would feel let down but it – and although some important elements of the season were not discussed like Hunt’s ultimate exclusion from the British Grand Prix generally it captured the season well. The horrific crash Niki suffered at the German GP that year which nearly claimed his life is graphically captured. The fact he lived is incredible enough, that he raced a few weeks later in a desperate attempt to stop Hunt wrestling his title away is frankly beyond belief.
Another bit not quiet factually correct is the end of the final race in Japan when Hunt comes into the pits he is portrayed as remoreful for having let the team down as he things he has thrown it all away. Not so – read the accounts of Teddy Mayer who thought Hunt was going to punch his lights out and Teddy desperately trying to tell him he’d done enough on the last lap and had won the World Crown.
The insight to the two drivers is interesting as well. Well known was Lauda’s incredible attention to detail and scientific approach to almost everything, where as Hunt would party the night away turn up and just drive on pure instinct. There are some great scenes that get behind the image he projected, he was a dark and troubled character a lot of the time. I knew someone a few years back who’d been extremely close to him and I can attest that their comments to me reflect some of the portrayal of him in the film. Lauda is on the other hand portrayed as the loving husband etc. if obsessed with racing, perhaps a bit too overly painting him as an opposite of Hunt’s character, just look up why Lauda’s wife eventually left him.
But all in all – one of the best films I’ve seen in ages. Well worth seeing if you are a fan of F1 or not – if you’re not you may see why people like me hero worshipped these guys in the 70s. Hunt never won a title again, retired mid season some years later and spent all his money. He seemed to have calmed down and was a happy chappy in his 40s when a heart attack took him away too early, but he almost had to die young like that for the legend to be complete. Lauda continued to take two more titles, in different cars under different eras – his last was (ironically) with a McLaren in the turbo era. Truly an absolute great amongst the F1 legends. He still works in F1 with the current Mercedes team.