Here is a wonderfully evocative photograph of James Hunt in his McLaren M23, taken before the start at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix at the Õsterreichring. Hunt was on pole with John Watson’s Penske PC4 next to him. Hunt had a golden opportunity to add to his points with Niki Lauda still in hospital following his terrible crash in the German Grand Prix only two weeks previously and with Ferrari having withdrawn both their entries. However, the British driver did not seem to be “on” this weekend. Watson led at the start and later regained the lead to take the inaugural F1 win for Roger Penske’s team. Watson’s other challengers, primarily Ronnie Peterson’s March 761, Gunnar Nilsson’s Lotus 77 and Jacques Lafitte’s Ligier JS5, fell back with Nilsson and Lafitte finishing just in front of Hunt.
Nevertheless, Hunt succeeded in winning the 1976 World Championship after Lauda, who had returned to competition, withdrew from the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, due to the very wet conditions which he deemed unsafe.
Photo by Nigel Snowdon ©The Klemantaski Collection
With our best wishes for the Season and the New Year.