- October 24 down the years
Hunt claims title in Fuji rainWhat happened on this day in Formula One history?
Despite missing two races after his life-threatening accident at the Nurburgring, Niki Lauda entered the season finale at Mount Fuji still in the lead of the championship by three points from James Hunt. Hunt qualified second ahead of Lauda but the drivers arrived on race day to thick fog with streams running across the circuit due to torrential rain. Despite some calls from drivers for the race to be cancelled, organisers decided to go ahead and Hunt ploughed into the lead off the line. It soon became too much for Lauda who, having dropped into the midfield, pulled into the pits and withdrew on the second lap. "For me there is something more important than the world championship," said Lauda. Hunt continued in the lead but began to fade on a drying circuit, dropping back behind Patrick Depailler and Mario Andretti. Two laps later Depailler's left rear started to deflate and he had to pit before Hunt suffered a similar problem and headed for the pits. He dropped to fifth and set off after Depailler, Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni. Depailler overtook both men on lap 70 and on the next lap Hunt did the same, securing the third place he needed to win the title. "The front tyre started shredding, and I had rubbish all over my visor," said Hunt afterwards. "I didn't know what the hell to do. Then the tyre burst. I dropped some places during the pit stop, but I didn't know how many. At the finish I was convinced I still had to pass a couple of cars to regain third place. Fortunately, I was wrong."
Ayrton Senna won the Japanese Grand Prix but only after he found himself unlapped by a cheeky Ulsterman making his F1 debut in a Jordan. The debutant was Eddie Irvine, who, himself in a fight for championship points, claimed Senna was going too slowly and hindering his own personal battle with Damon Hill. After the race, a furious Senna hunted down Irvine in the Jordan motorhome after two glasses of schnapps and punched him in the face for his impudence. "You've got to learn to respect where you're going wrong," said Senna.
Juan Pablo Montoya signed off in style as a Williams driver by winning the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix from future McLaren team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Jaguar, up for sale and destined for the history books, finished their five-year spell in Formula One ignominiously when their two cars collided.