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The merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
Niki Lauda: A wise man can learn more from his enemies than a fool from his friends.
[last lines] Niki Lauda: Of course he didn't listen to me. For James, one world title was enough. He had proved what he needed to prove. To himself and anyone who doubted him. And two years later, he retired. When I saw him next in London, seven years later, me as a champion again, him as broadcaster, he was barefoot on a bicycle with a flat tire, still living each day like his last. When I heard he died age 45 of a heart attack, I wasn't surprised. I was just sad. People always think of us as rivals but he was among the very few I liked and even fewer that I respected. He remains the only person I envied.
Niki Lauda: Happiness is your biggest enemy. It weakens you. Puts doubts in your mind. Suddenly you have something to lose.
James Hunt: The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. It's a wonderful way to live. It's the only way to drive.
[Hunt enters Lauda's garage and sees the extent of the burn injuries to his head] Niki Lauda: It's that bad, huh? James Hunt: [Shrugs] No. Niki Lauda: In hospital, I asked them straight, no bullshit, how bad my appearance would be. They said in time, it would be fine. But it won't. [Approaches Hunt] Niki Lauda: I can tell, seeing your reaction. I will spend the rest of my life with a face that frightens people. James Hunt: You know, Niki, I tried to write you a letter at the time, to apologize. The drivers' meeting in Germany, before the race, I swayed the room. Niki Lauda: Yes, you did. James Hunt: That race should never have gone ahead. Niki Lauda: No, it shouldn't. James Hunt: So in many ways, I feel responsible for what happened, and... Niki Lauda: You were. [pause] Niki Lauda: But trust me... watching you win those races while I was fighting for my life, you were equally responsible for getting me back in the car. [Lauda walks away]
Niki Lauda: [Testing his Ferrari at Fiorano] It's terrible. Drives like a pig. Lauda's Mechanic: [Offended] Oh, you can't say that. Niki Lauda: Why not? Lauda's Mechanic: It's a Ferrari! Niki Lauda: It's a shitbox! It under-steers like crazy and the weight distribution is a disaster. It's amazing - all these facilities, and you make a piece of crap like this.
Lord Hesketh: Men love women, but even more than that, men love cars.
[first lines] Niki Lauda: Twenty five drivers start every season in Formula One, and each year two of us die. What kind of person does a job like this? Not normal men, for sure. Rebels, lunatics, dreamers. People who are that desperate to make a mark, and are prepared to die trying. My name is Niki Lauda, and racing people know me for two things. The first is my rivalry with him. [James Hunt] Niki Lauda: I don't know why it became such a big thing. We were just drivers busting each other's balls. To me this is perfectly normal, but other people saw in differently. That whatever it was between us went deeper. The other thing I'm remembered for is what happened on 1st August 1976, when I was chasing him like an asshole...
Niki Lauda: When do you start testing? Next week? James Hunt: No. What, are you nuts? I didn't just win the biggest thing in my life so I could get right back to work. Niki Lauda: Why? You have to. To prove to all the people who will always say you just won it because... James Hunt: Because of what? Because of your accident? Niki, is that other people, or is that you? I won, okay? On the all-important day, when it came down to it, we raced on equal terms, equally good cars. And I put my life on the line, and I saw it through. Niki Lauda: And you call that winning? James Hunt: Yes. Niki Lauda: The risks were totally unacceptable. You were prepared to die. To me, that's losing. James Hunt: Yes, I was. I admit it. I was prepared to die to beat you that day. And that's the effect you have on me. You'd pushed me that far. And it felt great. I mean, hell, isn't that we're in this for? To stare death in the face, and to cheat it? Come on, there's nobility in that. It's... it's like being knights. Niki Lauda: You English, you're such assholes. You know my position. Twenty percent risk. James Hunt: No, no, no, Niki, don't bring the percentages into this. Don't be a pro. The minute you do that, you kill what's good about this. You kill the sport. [Long pause, before James' party calls him from his plane] James Hunt: I've got to go. [points at Lauda's plane as he walks away] James Hunt: Careful with this thing. Niki Lauda: James. [Hunt stops] Niki Lauda: You know, in hospital, the toughest part of my treatment was the vacuum. Pumping the shit out of my lungs. It was hell. And while doing it, I was watching television. You winning all my points. James Hunt: Your points? Niki Lauda: 'That bastard Hunt,' I would say. 'I hate that guy.' And then one day, the doctor came and said, 'Mr. Lauda, may I offer a piece of advice? Stop thinking of it as a curse to have been given an enemy in life. It can be a blessing, too. A wise man gets more from his enemies than a fool from his friends.' And you know what? He was right. Look at us. We were both a pair of kids when we met. Hot-headed jerks in Formula 3. Disowned by our families. Headed nowhere. And now, we're both champions of the world. It was not bad, huh? James Hunt: No, it's not bad. Niki Lauda: So don't let me down now. I need you busting my balls. Get back to work. James Hunt: I will, Niki, I will. But I intend to enjoy myself first. Some of life needs to be for pleasure. What's the point of having a million cups and medals and planes if you don't have any fun? How is that winning? [Hunt's party calls him again] James Hunt: I'll see you on race day, champ. Niki Lauda: You will, champ. James Hunt: You look good, Niki. The only guy to have his face burnt off and it be an improvement. [Lauda gives Hunt the finger as Hunt smiles back and walks toward his party]
[Following Lauda's press conference, Hunt approaches the British journalist that offended Lauda] British Journalish: James, are you all right? James Hunt: Good, yeah. Listen, I think I've got something for you on that last question, about Niki. British Journalish: You heard about that? James Hunt: I did. [Hunt shoves the journalist into the maintenance room] British Journalish: James... [Hunt punches the journalist in the stomach and closes the door before proceeding to punch him in the face and shove him to the ground] British Journalish: Please, James... [Hunt grabs the journalist's tape recorder and stuffs it between his mouth] James Hunt: Now go home to your wife and ask her how you look. [Hunt punches the tape recorder on the journalist's face before he walks away] James Hunt: Prick.
Niki Lauda: Happiness is the enemy.
James Hunt: I have a theory why women like racing drivers... It's not because they respect what we do, driving round and round in circles. Mostly they think that's pathetic and they're probably right. It's our closeness to death. You see the closer you are to death the more alive you feel, the more alive you are. They can see that in you they feel that in you. My name is James Hunt. My father is a stock broker, my sister is a barrister, and my brother is an accountant, and I... well I do this. It's a wonderful way to live, it's the only way to drive, as if each day is your last.
Italian Journalist: How are you feeling, Niki? Niki Lauda: Fine. American Journalist: Niki, can you confirm to us exactly which procedures you've had and the expectations for your recovery? Niki Lauda: Sure. I had a skin graft operation, where they put half my right thigh in my face. Now it doesn't look too good, but one unexpected advantage is it's impossible to perspire through a skin graft, so sweat will never run into my eyes again, which is good for a driver. [laughter from the journalists] Spanish Journalist: [Raises hand] When they heard about your condition, Ferrari immediately hired a replacement driver, Carlos Reutemann. Niki Lauda: Yeah. Before even reaching the hospital. German Journalist: Is Reutemann driving today, too? Niki Lauda: Yes, and keen to make an impression. So let's see where Mr. Reutemann finishes and where I finish today. American Journalist: James Hunt and McLaren have caught up a lot while you were away. Niki Lauda: Yes. So is there a question now, or are you just trying to piss me off? [laughter from the journalists] German Journalist: Do you still think you can win? Niki Lauda: Yes, of course. I have the better car. And possibly I'm the better driver. But he's a clever guy, and he's used his time well while I was lying half-dead in hospital... to win some points. British Journalish: And what did your wife say when she saw your face? [Lauda pauses] Niki Lauda: She said, 'Sweetie, you don't need a face to drive. You just need a right foot.' [laughter from the journalists] British Journalish: I'm being serious. Do you really think your marriage can survive with the way you look now? Niki Lauda: And I'm being serious, too. [Points at British journalist] Niki Lauda: Fuck you. Press conference over. [Lauda gets up angrily and storms his way out of the press conference]
Suzy Miller: [talking about the safety of a 1970's F1 car] Why don't they make it safer? James Hunt: The risk of death turns people on.
James Hunt: That wind you can feel is me breathing down your neck. Next time, I'll have you.
Marlene Lauda: Who are you, should I know you? Giovanni: What, you don't know? He's Niki Lauda: Formula One driver and he just signed with Ferrari. Marlene Lauda: Him? Giovanni, Andrea Italian Passenger: Yes! Marlene Lauda: Impossible. Giovanni: [Surprised] Why? Marlene Lauda: You know, Formula One drivers. They have long hair, are sexy and their shirts are open to here. Niki Lauda: Thank you. Marlene Lauda: Yes? Anyway, look at they way he's driving like an old man. Niki Lauda: There's no need to drive fast, it just increases the percentage of risk. We're not in a hurry, I'm not being paid. Right now, with zero incentive or reward, why would I drive fast? Marlene Lauda: [whispers] Because I'm asking you to. [long pause] Niki Lauda: [speaking in German] Do you always get what you want? Marlene Lauda: [speaking in German] Ja. Usually.
Marlene Lauda: When you call happiness an enemy, then it's too late. Then you've already lost.
James Hunt: I tend to enjoy myself first. The sum of life needs to be pleasure. What's the point of having a million of medals, cups and planes if you don't have any fun? And how is that winning?
Niki Lauda: I accept every time I get in my car there is a 20% chance I could die, and I can live with it, but not 1% more.
Niki Lauda: Your fan belt is loose. Marlene Lauda: My what? Niki Lauda: And when you brake your foot goes all the way down, which means there's air in the system. Marlene Lauda: Anything else? Niki Lauda: No... Apart from the rear brakes are worn out, the front right tire's a but soft, which explains why you're weaving so much. Marlene Lauda: How can you tell? Niki Lauda: My ass. Marlene Lauda: Sorry? Niki Lauda: God gave me an okay mind, but a really good ass, which can feel everything in a car.
[Hunt runs to the hangar to meet up with Lauda, who is circling around a private jet] James Hunt: Niki. Good to see you. [shakes hands with Lauda] James Hunt: [Lauda walks around the jet] James Hunt: I heard you were spending more and more time in one of these. Niki Lauda: Do you fly? James Hunt: No. I don't think they'd insure me. Niki Lauda: You should try. It's good for discipline. You have to stay within the rules, stick with regulations, suppress the ego. It helps with the racing. James Hunt: And there I was thinking you were about to wax lyrical about the romance of flight. Niki Lauda: No, that's all bullshit. So what brings you here? James Hunt: A friend's wedding. At least I think it was a wedding. Might have been a birthday or something. It's all a bit of a blur. How about you? Haven't you been at Fiorano? Niki Lauda: Pre-season testing. James Hunt: You're relentless. Niki Lauda: Thank you. James Hunt: I'm not sure that was meant as a compliment.
Suzy Miller: He only wanted to show me his pride and joy. Rhymes with "boy", if you ask me. And "toy". God, it's so flimsy, for something that costs so much. There's no comfort, no protection, nothing. James Hunt: No, it's just a little coffin, really. Surrounded by high-octane fuel, in here. Being driven round 170 miles per hour. To all intents and purposes, this thing's a bomb on wheels.
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