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.

Why did Niki envy James? He won more championships, has a more organized life and a stable relationship. What's on his mindset because of which he envied him?

  • 1
    Well, Lauda wasn't exactly a saint. He has a child from an extra-marital affair. Nothing that even comes close to Hunt's lifestyle, but he had his moments ;) Mar 15, 2017 at 16:34
  • @steelersquirrel He lived with Hunt for a while as well so something may have rubbed off. Mar 15, 2017 at 16:46

2 Answers 2


Because James Hunt lived life to the full

The quote from the film almost says that, but a quote in this Express article states it a bit more explicitly:

Lauda once said: "He is the only man whose life I really envied. Even towards the end when I saw him in scruffy trainers you knew there was a man who lived life to the full."

James Hunt did what he wanted to do, he lived the life he wanted to live carefree and ambivalent to the consequences, ultimately that consequence was the heart attack at 45.

Niki Lauda on the other hand was very driven and focused on being the best F1 driver he could be. This was shown by him returning to racing just 6 weeks after a horrific crash and fire. He didn't have that same freedom that Hunt appeared to enjoy.


I think it was because Hunt had such a natural ability, and didn't "waste" his life in the garage. Lauda was so focused on racing that he didn't have time to enjoy his success, whereas Hunt was successful on the track and had a full social life outside of F1. Lauda envied Hunt's talent, sort of like in school when one would envy a person who spent little time studying yet still achieved high grades. Lauda had to work for it, to Hunt it just came naturally.

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