- Dutch Grand Prix
Hesketh's delight at Hunt's maiden victory
James Hunt and his underfunded Hesketh team cocked a snoop at the establishment with a remarkable win at the Dutch Grand Prix, ending a string of three victories by the Ferrari of Niki Lauda. It was the first win for both driver and team.
Hunt's new wife, Suzy, an ever-present in the pits, missed the race, remaining at their Spanish home to take pressure off him. But Lord Hesketh leapt the barriers - no mean feat given his ample proportions - to embrace his driver. "This is the most wonderful feeling I have ever felt," Hesketh wept. "I simply cannot describe it."
"It's what we have all been working for," Hunt smiled as he puffed on a cigarette at the end. "It's the greatest moment of my racing life."
In a race which started in rain and ended in sunshine, Hunt was forced to work all the way by Lauda who eventually finished less than a second behind. Their 30-lap battle left the field trailing and third-placed Clay Regazzoni was half a lap down.
The key moment came after seven laps when Hunt, lying fourth, gambled and switched to slicks, even though the track was still slippery. He rejoined in 17th place, but as all the other cars were forced in to change tyres, he moved through the field. Lauda waited until the 13th lap before coming in, but despite a rapid pit-stop, Hunt and Jean-Pierre Jarier got past. It took Lauda until the 44th lap to get past the Frenchman, and that set up the thrilling finale.
Ferrari's disappointing day was capped when team manger Luca di Montezemolo suffered a broken leg when he stepped in the way of Ronnie Peterson's car as it accelerated away from its garage.