Hunt meets Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) when they’re both racing Formula Three. Hunt is all hunky blond entitlement, champagne-swigging and recklessness; Lauda is disciplined, obsessive and – as everyone keeps reminding him – kind of ratty-looking. They’re also both supremely arrogant alpha males, and loathe each other on sight. In fact, judging by Gerald Donaldson’s biography of Hunt, their rivalry was quite friendly. Hunt won a Formula Two race against Lauda at Oulton Park in 1972; Donaldson notes that Lauda and another driver, Ronnie Peterson, congratulated him and “were genuinely happy to see James finally get a share of the success they felt he deserved”. Hunt – who was not in the habit of sugar-coating anything he said to the press – said: “I got on very well with Niki and always had done since we first met in Formula Three and gypsied around Europe together. We raced against each other but we also teamed up as mates, not just casual acquaintances.” To be fair, accuracy on this point would make for a much duller film.
James Hunt and Niki Lauda were ‘good friends’