4. 1976 – ‘If Hunt doesn’t race, we riot’
The events of the 1976 Formula 1 season have moved past the stuff of legend, thanks in part to Rush and the 40th anniversary of Hunt’s solo F1 championship this year. Ditto Lauda’s near-death accident at the Nürburgring, his emotional return at Monza just five weeks later, and the championship decider at a waterlogged Fuji in front of a global TV audience Occasionally lost in the melee though is that year’s British GP, which actually saw Hunt’s McLaren’s temporarily banned from taking the restart after a first collision shunt brought out the red flags.
News broke in the grandstands that the home town boy might not be allowed to race. And the fans were pissed. Not until the farcical 2005 United States Grand Prix would anger fuel the grandstands so vehemently, and threats that a full riot would break out were dangerously close to the mark (the circuits bobbies were nowhere near ready to withstand that). Driven by common sense – or a sense of self-preservation – the race officials finally allowed Hunt to take the grid of the restarted race. Which he went on to win comfortably.
Only for the slightly-too-wide rear track on his McLaren M23 cause him to be disqualified again two months later.