Bengaluru, October 24: It has been 41 years, but the memory is still fresh. October 24, 1976, That is the day when James Hunt won his first and only Formula One world title by the narrowest of margins.
On this day in 1976, James Hunt won the Formula One world title with third place in the Japanese Grand Prix. pic.twitter.com/vDvK8u02vw— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) October 24, 2017
The British driver's fierce rivalry with three-time world champion Niki Lauda is part of paddock folklore and is well documented in the 2013 biopic 'Rush'.
Going into the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, which was the final race of the 1976 season, Ferrari's Lauda had a three-point lead over McLaren's Hunt.
The stage was set for a thrilling climax amidst a heavy downpour with Mario Andretti grabbing the pole followed by Hunt and Lauda.
Defending world champion Lauda who was recovering from a near fatal crash in the German Grand Prix that season decided to call it quits after two laps realising it was too dangerous to drive.
With the Austrian pulling out, all that Hunt required was a third-place finish to clinch the title.
But there was another twist to the tale as Hunt, who was leading the race first suffered a tyre wear and then a puncture forcing him to take a pit stop.
Despite Mclaren crew advising him to play it safe, Hunt went for the jugular and got what he wanted - a hard-fought third-place and a maiden F1 world title which he had been yearning for years.
Just one point separated Hunt and Lauda in one of the most exciting season in F1 history.
Hunt was 29 when he accomplished the feat. On and off the track, he led a turbulent life and passed away following a massive heart attack in 1993.
The greatest tribute to Hunt came from no one other other his friend and foe Lauda, himself, who said: "For me, James was the most charismatic personality who's ever been in Formula One."
James' son Freddie who will compete at next month's 24-hour Endurance race at the Circuit of Americas recently shared Lauda's quote on his Twitter handle.