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1977 Dutch GP: One of the fiercest McLaren battles ever, featuring F1 Champion James Hunt

*Andretti and Hunt gave the audience an epic show in The Netherlands.

The 1977 Formula One season was not the best for the reigning 1976 World Champion James Hunt. After retiring in his first race, he achieved a second place in Brazil, but he couldn't get regular podium spots. In fact, he didn't win until the 10th race in Silverstone, and despite all the problems that the McLaren M23 and M26 gave him, he was fast, and he gave the people what they wanted to see.

The season was full of retirements for Hunt, he abandoned in Argentina, Spain, Monaco, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Italia and Canada. He had a lot of problems with the new McLaren M26, but in the final part of the season, he was the fastest driver there was, only challenged by Mario Andretti and it was precisely him, who gave him hell.

One of the season's highlights came in the Dutch Grand Prix, where Hunt managed to qualify on the third spot, directly behind Andretti, who got the Pole Position. When the race started, the Brit got past the first row and took the first place, driving aggressively to force the Italian-American to fall back into third place as he tried to keep up with the Englishman's pace, leaving Laffite in second.

On lap 6, Andretti overtook Laffite with his powerful Lotus and charged against Hunt's McLaren again, taking the outside line of the corner. The British man defended aggressively, again, only this time Mario Andretti didn't give up, and they touched. The McLaren jumped in the air for a few inches and had to abandon right after, whereas the American driver spun, but could continue in the fourth place behind the Ligier and the Ferraris.

 

"James Hunt, he's champion of the world right? The problem is that he thinks he's king of the god-damn world as well!", stated an angry Mario Andretti after the race.

 

Andretti then went on to have a fierce battle with Carlos Reutemann for the third spot, and they exchanged places now and then until the Lotus' engine blew up, leaving the Ferrari with the spot. That didn't last because he later collided with the second Lotus and had to rejoin at the back, ending in the 6th place. On the other hand, Laffite was overtaken by Niki Lauda, who won the race.

Both drivers were furious at each other after they abandoned the race: "We don't pass on the outside in Formula 1," said an angry Hunt, while Andretti huffed "silly jerk! James Hunt, he's champion of the world right? The problem is that he thinks he's king of the god-damn world as well!".

Hunt and Andretti were so much faster than the others, that the two of them scored almost all of the pole positions of the season, leaving only four poles for the rest of the drivers with the American winning 7, against 6 for the British pilot. They owned the 1977 season, but due to their constant retirements from the races and Lauda's consistency (even having won fewer races than Andretti), gave the Austrian pilot his second World Championship.

Hunt vs. Andretti

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