Emerson Fittipaldi
James Hunt.

At midnight I said: ‘I’m off to bed’ and he was still up, still servicing the lead singer.

1976 Misbehaving in Canada

Hunt wins the British Grand Prix in his car, which was repaired following a pile-up, but is disqualified due to a technicality invented by Ferrari. The race goes to Ferrari’s Niki Lauda. McLaren redeem themselves by winning the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport.

We went to Canada and got the news that we’d lost the points in the British Grand Prix. We gave up and I let James misbehave. We were staying in a big hotel on the freeway up to Toronto. There was a band playing in the bar, a live band with a very pretty lead singer that caught James’ eye. Every break, after they’d played for half an hour, he’d trot her off to his room and then bring her back so they they could play again until the next break. This went on all evening and he got more and more pissed and so did I. At midnight I said: ‘I’m off to bed’ and he was still up, still servicing the lead singer.

The race warm up was at 10am and we had to leave the motel by seven. Normally I would have made him go to bed at 10pm, on his own, sober. But because we thought it was hopeless I just let him misbehave. The next day we won the race. We’d staggered drunkenly to the race track, did the warm up, and won the race. And then we went to Watkins Glen and did the same thing: we misbehaved and I let him misbehave. The motel we stayed in used to have my shirt up on the wall because, at 1am, I was dancing on the bar with James, topless. We went to bed, got up in the morning, won the race. So now suddenly it had gone from being impossible to being very possible.

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