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Rush Vs. Real Life: Where Fact Meets Fiction
We pull the F1 hit into the pit lane for a fact check

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Whether you think Formula One is the most exciting thing ever to invade our Sundays or just some blokes in overalls driving around in circles for two hours, Peter Morgan’s terrific Rush script will teach you something about the sport you didn’t know. It follows the volatile relationship between world champions James Hunt and Niki Lauda, one of most famous rivalries in sport, through their death-defying battles in the 1970s. But as with any ‘true story’ there’s always more to it. Details have been tweaked and incidents exaggerated in the good name of storytelling. We’ve picked out ten things Rush didn’t tell you

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1 James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda's (Daniel Brühl) on-track rivalry was bitter and hard-fought. Off the track, however, the two were more sympatico than Rush suggests. In fact, they even shared a flat in London for time. A fiver says Lauda did all the washing-up.
Verdict: False

2 Rush introduces a young, pot-smoking James Hunt and the much more methodical Niki Lauda – the film's Maverick and Iceman – at a Formula 3 race at Crystal Palace in October 1970. In reality, Lauda didn't attend that race and Hunt crashed out after a shunt with another driver.
Verdict: False

3 James Hunt's McLaren was disqualified from the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix for being too wide. Alastair Caldwell, McLaren team manager at the time, accepted blame for the error in a recent interview with Motor Sport Magazine. Spanish marshals, he claimed, knew that the car was in breach of regulations before the race but said nothing until Hunt took the checkered flag.
Verdict: True
4 Lauda's awful crash at the Nürburgring in 1976, in which he was trapped in his flaming Ferrari for over a minute, left him so close to death that a priest actually administered the last rites. He survived - in your face, priest! – but was so badly injured that his wife Marlena actually fainted when she saw him. In the film, she only gasps in horror, downplaying the shock but enhancing the visible strength of their relationship.
Verdict: False

5 Germany's infamous Nürburgring was never called "The Graveyard" by F1 drivers. Triple world champion Jackie Stewart did coin another name for it, "The Green Hell", after breaking his wrist there while winning the 1968 German Grand Prix.
Verdict: False

6 When Lauda called the vote to have the German Grand Prix cancelled due to treacherous weather conditions, he actually only lost by one vote rather than the landslide it appears on screen. However, Hunt's charisma undoubtedly helped carry the day.
Verdict: True

7 In Rush, Brühl's Lauda suggests that Ferrari replaced him with Carlos Reutemann even as he was being helicoptered to hospital. But was his team that ruthless? Perhaps not, but Ferrari definitely didn't linger over the decision. "It was difficult to explain the choice to Niki", says Luca di Montezemelo, "but the interests of Ferrari, then and now, always came ahead of those of the drivers, whoever they may have been."
Verdict: True
8 A journalist did ask Lauda if he thought his marriage would survive in light of his facial scarring at a 1976 press conference. However, Hunt's subsequent assault on the bolshy hack is creative licence on the part of the filmmakers, albeit an incident in keeping with his fiery reputation and high regard for Lauda.
Verdict: False

9 After proposing to Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) when they'd only been dating for only two weeks, Hunt couldn't make the marriage last and she really did leave him for Richard Burton. She later had an uncredited appearance in a film wiith Burton – The Wild Geese – in 1979 before they divorced in 1982.
Verdict: True

10 Lauda and Hunt were dramatically different characters – the former a rabble-rouser who liked to fly by the seat of his pants; the latter a calculating tactician who prefered to fly by his own airline – but there wasn't quite as much daylight between them as the film suggests. "I would never drink before a race," Lauda likes to point out, "[but] certainly after it, I had to." Rather than piously swerving his pit lane rival, he occasionally drank with Hunt.
Verdict: False




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1 British GP
Perhaps the most glaring omission of the film was that Hunt, following lobbying from Ferrari, had his British GP victory stripped after the race. After a crash on the first lap the race was stopped, the rules are that you must complete the circuit and pit, Hunt however was right next to one of the plethora of access roads off the track and used that as it was a lot quicker. Ferrari used that tiny technicality to have the first Brit to win their home GP in many years stripped of his title. Unlike the Spain incident, where Hunt was stripped of his win, he did not get the points back on this one. More

Posted by nicksinclair01 on Tuesday October 1, 2013, 16:46

2 no 9
But Hunt proposed to Suzy Miller in the film, when they FIRST met- didn't he?? More

Posted by stevos on Friday September 20, 2013, 12:12

3 Nice Article
I liked Rush a lot, despite the dramatic licence (it's a movie after all). Thought you were going to mention also that Hunt was actually disqualified from British GP win (not mentioned in film) and that at Monza Ferrari made up a story pre-race that McLaren's fuel was illegal, relgating Hunt to the back of the grid where he promptly crashed on the first lap. McLaren were duly cleared the week after, but too late! Sure this and other stories were omitted for time reasons, but the excellent doc about them will fill in the gaps: More

Posted by oliraceking on Thursday September 19, 2013, 17:15

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