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Epic battles and incredible spectacles.
on 23 September 2009
This DVD starts with the usual rundown of team changes, and after Fittipaldi moved to a small all-Brazilian team, James Hunt took his place in the McLaren. The season then became one of the most spectacular in F1 history, and this disk gives you the chance to experience some of it...
Lauda made an authoritative start to the season and had a couple of straight wins with Hunt snapping at his heels. By the third race Hunt stole a win from Lauda - but the Austrian was sporting a couple of broken ribs at the time! The battle between the two for the Driver's Championship was fought both on and off the track as disqualifications were appealed and sustained and the two drivers tried to concentrate on getting in the car and getting the job done.
1976 also saw a radical design with the Tyrrell when it started the season with 6 wheels. Both front wheels turned and the experiment paid off when the cars performed well and even clinched a 1-2 win in Sweden.
As with the other DVDs in this collection, the Monaco Grand Prix is given special attention and the narrator even remains quiet for a few moments after inviting us to simply take in the sights and sounds of the day - we are then treated to the raw sound of engines roaring around the historic track.
Stirling Moss appears regularly in this DVD, he is seen interviewing many of the drivers in a very warm and friendly manner. His interviews with James Hunt provide a lot of humour, especially Hunt's cheeky reply to the question "What are your tactics for this race?"; "Cheat at the start!". After being disqualified (and later reinstated) for having a car slightly wider than regulations allow, Hunt is seen grinning whilst wiping a sticker on the back of his McLaren which reads "Caution Wide Vehicle".
Presumably they had no footage of the British Grand Prix which they were allowed to show, as the event is quickly brushed over with a brief mention, that's a shame as it was an eventful race crammed with controversy, Hunt's win there was later removed after a stewards decision went against McLaren - something McLaren fans will be familiar with during the 2007 and 2008 seasons!
This 1976 season is most famous for the German Grand Prix where Niki Lauda was involved in a nearly fatal incident which saw him burning in his car which was then hit by another passing car. Lauda was read the last rites and wasn't expected to survive. But Lauda was a man who should never be underestimated and he returned six weeks later and finished 4th. Although he wasn't on the podium, the ovation captured on video for Lauda brings a lump to the throat.
One thing which must be mentioned about this DVD is the noticeable improvement in footage for the Austrian and Dutch Grand Prix, it looks like TV footage from the time and it brings us the best footage of overtaking from any of the DVDs in this series so far. The Narrator describes the battle for 1st place during the Dutch Grand Prix as a "Titanic Battle" and it certainly is.
In a nutshell: Hunt won the world championship by 1 point, but Lauda receives equal recognition and certainly deserves it for impressive driving and incredible bravery. This DVD has more race footage than the previous volumes, and the racing it shows is without doubt some of the best ever in the history of the sport - so much so that after watching it I immediately skipped backwards and watched it over again, it was awesome. You also get some incredible humour and a great insight into the character of James Hunt. I've given this 5 stars because although it has flaws (the dodgy music is still there!), it also incorporates the spirit of everything there is to love about F1 and seems to show the sport entering a new age.