The 1976 grand prix season was an epic year of Formula One – Niki Lauda, driving for Ferrari won 5 of the first 6 races and consequently had a huge lead in the championship with British title hope, James Hunt some 45 points behind after the Monaco race.  You’d have been called a fool for thinking anyone but Lauda would be World Champion ’76.

However, come the Japanese Grand Prix there were only three points between Lauda and Hunt and only one race to go.  But how did this extraordinary turnaround come about?  There were some superb races, Lauda narrowly escaped death, there were appeals and controversy between Ferrari, McLaren and the FIA and loads more – here to summarise the great 1976 season is a rather fab video presented by Dickie Davis – you have to love the ‘Japanese’ graphics…

And then of course came the final grand prix itself – the Japanese GP, held – yep you guessed it, under treacherous conditions with the Fuij track completely rain-soaked. The race start was delayed, but instead of the safety car going out, the drivers went out for 15mins to see for themselves! 

Could Hunt take the title from Lauda, who’s held the championship lead since the first race – you bet he could!

…and you thought the 2010 season was exciting!  As Badger’s motto goes – …Formula One isn’t boring – and it certainly never has been. 

We won’t get a new world champion at Suzuka this weekend, but it’s a massively important race for the title and what with qualifying and the race on the same day, Hamilton with a five-place penalty, Red Bull looking crazy fast, Alonso on a mission and Jenson Button keen to capitalise on his teammate’s misfortune, all the ingredients are in there for a great feast of grand prix racing.

And to wrap up our flashback to 1976, here’s an interview with James Hunt after claiming the title.