December 6th, 2011
1 EXT. CLOUDY SKY - GERMANY - DAY 1
Dark clouds passing overhead.
The bad weather that has hovered over the Eifel mountains, (in
Germany), the past three days is on it's way out..
2 AN EYE FLICKERS - WIDE OPEN - STARING INTENTLY 2
A pupil dilates and contracts in the light. The eye stares.
Blinks. Thinks. Making evaluations..
3 EXT. CLOUDY SKY - GERMANY - DAY 3
The first rays of sunshine break through. The voices of
international TV commentators in different languages.
...in places the track is still
dangerously wet, but following a
drivers meeting the decision has been
taken. The race is going ahead...
4 INT. FERRARI - DAY 4
The eye belongs to a 27 year old Formula 1 RACING DRIVER
wearing a fireproof balaclava...
Highly intelligent, he also happens to be World Champion. His
name is painted on the side of his Ferrari. NIKI LAUDA.
My grandfather always said history is
cruel and reductive and no matter how
long we live, or how much we achieve -
we are remembered for very little. So
make sure it's the right things.
NIKI stares up at the clouds. His eyelids flicker. Thinking.
Agonizing. Wrestling with an all important decision...
Is it going to carry on raining? Or become dry? Should he be
using slicks or wets?
5 EXT. STARTING GRID - DAY 5
We widen to find ourselves on the starting grid of a major
Grand Prix. All around us...
5 CONTINUED: 5
Engines scream into life as DRIVERS start their cars. An
OFFICIAL walks through the cars holding aloft a sign, "One
Deafening, angry thunder as engines rev impatiently.
This is bullshit. We have no control
over our legacy. We cannot choose what
we are remembered for...
A Ferrari MECHANIC rushes towards NIKI, and shouts in Italian
above the noise, (we see sub-titles)...
Mass usa slicks. Le vuoi cambiare
(Mass is going on slicks. You
want to change?)
NIKI looks in his wing-mirror back to see a red McLaren, white
helmet, number 12, several rows behind him. A team of
MECHANICS hastily changing the tyres to dry tyres.
Otherwise I wouldn't be remembered for
my rivalry with this asshole. And the
NIKI then looks over at the car in pole position beside him.
Another McLaren, but with number 11, and a Union Jack...
What about Hunt? Has he changed?
No, he's going on wets.
The car in pole position: JAMES HUNT, surrounded by TV crews,
mechanics, girlfriends, hangers-on..
The Maclaren team is less than half the size of Ferrari's, but
HUNT makes up for this with magnetism. The rock star of F1.
NIKI's face: a stab of envy seeing a flash of his rival's
glamorous long blonde hair disappearing into his balaclava,
flirting with several hot-looking GIRLS..
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
5 CONTINUED: (2) 5
That whatever it was between us went
deeper. And changed us both somehow.
NIKI stares, then...
Be, allora usiamo anche noi quells da
(Then we go on wets, too.)
The ten-second board is held up.
NIKI pulls down his visor...as he and HUNT's eyes meet for a
split-second, eyes staring...
NIKI selects second gear for the wet track and revs the
engine. The dashboard needle climbs through 8000, 9000, 10000
Maybe that explains the state of mind
I was in. And why it happened. The
other thing I'm remembered for.
On August 1st, that same year...
CAPTION: "AUGUST 1st, 1976".
The STARTER waves the flag. NIKI's foot hits the floor - his
engine screams that deafening, stomach rearranging high-pitch
scream, drowning out the roar of the 180,000 crowd.
NIKI's car is catapaulted forward violently, the wheel-spin
leaving livid black scars on the asphalt..
NIKI gets away first. A good start! But within seconds there's
a McLaren car right behind him, breathing down his neck.
His arch-rival. HUNT.
But as the McLaren roars past, NIKI sees a white helmet.
Number 12. It's not Hunt. It's MASS. On his bald, slick tyres.
NIKI curses under his breath. He screwed up. Made the wrong
decision. Should have gone on slicks. He urgently needs to
NIKI swerves angrily into the pits. Ferrari's pit is right at
6 INT. PITS - DAY 6
Commentary from all the world's TV stations explaining the
crazy, panicked situation as all the DRIVERS come into the
pits to change to dry tyres.
It's chaos. A traffic jam of Formula 1 cars...
The Ferrari team frantically work. Changing NIKI's tyres. Four
men with air guns, two men with rapid-duty jacks. The same
Italian MECHANIC appears, `plugs in' his headset to the car..
Hair visto? Ti aveto detto di usare le
(See? I told you to go on
Bullshit. Where's Hunt?
NIKI looks up to see the name JAMES HUNT written on the black
helmet roar out of the pits ahead, with new tyres on...
NIKI screams at the MECHANICS, who are struggling. The airguns
make a high-pitched noise...something's not right.
What's GOING ON???
"Thump", new (slick) tyres hit the tarmac, engines scream, and
NIKI exit the pits in pursuit of HUNT. But the delay has cost
7 EXT. NUBURGRING - DAY 7
Archive TV commentary from the world's race COMMENTATORS
stations informs us of the positions.
MASS leading, HUNT in 3rd, LAUDA in 20th...
8 INT. NIKI'S CAR - DAY 8
NIKI gives it everything he's got. Tearing through the gears,
trying to catch JAMES HUNT, breaking as late as he can, engine
8 CONTINUED: 8
He flies over the take-off hump between Pflanzgarten and
Swallowtail - passes one car after another. Into 13th place
now. Pulling off outrageous manoeuvres.
NIKI's P.O.V: the world flies past in a blur. The steering
wheel shakes. The car is right on the edge. Cannot be driven
NIKI approaches the Streckenteil Adenauer-Brucke section of
the course...turns left at the Bergwerk corner. Crazy speed.
And tight. Too tight. A mistake...
"Thump", his wheels come into contact with the kerb on the
inside. NIKI tries to counter-steer, but is travelling at 155
mph. The car jerks horribly to the right..
"Crunch", hits the embankment, then "Bang", hits the barrier,
and is thrown across the track..
Fire breaks out in the engine. NIKI's eyes widen in horror,
with another car bearing down upon him...
The oncoming car crashes head-on into our car, "Crash", a
sickening, terrifying impact.
The car explodes. Seventy litres of burning high-octane
gasoline, with NIKI strapped inside, unable to undo his
seatbelt. Locked in a blast furnace.
NIKI screams as the flames engulf him. 800 degrees
temperature. Trapped inside his car.
Burning smoke fills his helmet, scarring his lungs...
Pandemonium: commentary in different languages as panicked TV
commentators helplessly describe what's happening..
NIKI's POV: he can just make out the barely recognizable
figures of the other DRIVERS rushing towards NIKI..
Their hands get burnt in the flames as they try unsuccessfully
to undo NIKI's seatbelt..
Fire extinguishers blast at the car. Dry powder extinguishers.
Covering NIKI's helmet. Blurring his vision, as he cries out
in agony, inhaling the powder..
Screaming voices. Panicked reactions. On the side of the car,
the painted name `Niki Lauda' blisters and melts.
8 CONTINUED: (2) 8
Then sound fades. As NIKI blacks out - losing consciousness.
FADE TO BLACK:
Over this: the sound of a ringing phone...
9 INT. HOSPITAL A&E UNIT - (ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY) - DAY 9
We're in a busy hospital A&E unit. Noise. Crowds. A regular
Saturday late afternoon. The phone continues to ring..
Finally, an attractive station NURSE in her 20's, run-off-her-
feet, breathlessly picks up the phone.
She covers her ears, straining to hear, listening to what is
being said. Then her expression changes...
The NURSE hangs up...then calls out to her NURSE and DOCTOR
That was the race-track..! There's
been an accident..! A driver's been
injured and is on his way in..!
Instantly the atmosphere changes. A hive of activity as
DOCTORS and NURSES prepare themselves for a major trauma...
All PATIENTS with minor injuries are cleared out of the way.
The NURSE rings upstairs to the operating theatres and
consultant surgeons, telling them to stand by...
CAPTION: "EIGHTY-EIGHT RACES EARLIER"
Swing doors open, and a pair of shoeless, BARE FEET walks
through and into the accident and emergency unit.
Camera tilts up a pair of long legs in white racing
overalls...to reveal a tall, good-looking driver, JAMES HUNT,
(mid 20's), tanned, athletic, surfer long blonde hair...
A man about whom a word comes to mind one would rarely use to
describe an Englishman. SEXY.
Blood trickles from his nose, there is bruising to his lip and
the formation (already) of a nasty black eye, but make no
mistake. He rocks. Drop-dead gorgeous..
9 CONTINUED: 9
I think the racetrack telephoned ahead
that I was coming? Hunt? James Hunt..?
JAMES notices all the NURSES staring..
What's the matter? No one seen a spot
of blood before?
Are you all right?
10 INT. A&E UNIT - DAY 10
The attractive NURSE is examining JAMES, opening his overalls,
checking for wounds, cuts and bruises...
We all thought you'd been in an
I have. If you call a friendly
disagreement with another driver an
What did you disagree about?
None of your business. Ouch.
That's going to need a couple of
stitches. It's a nasty cut.
It was a nasty blow. Done with a
Why? What did you do?
10 CONTINUED: 10
Nothing! Only what she begged me to
The NURSE notices bruising on JAMES's chest...
She examines him, testing his ribs for fractures, his chest..
JAMES looks up. Their eyes meet..
Be happy to show you if you like.
11 INT. JAMES'S APARTMENT - NIGHT 11
`Crash', the door flies open as JAMES and the NURSE stumble
through, mid-embrace, tearing at one another's clothes...
The apartment is basic. Cramped. Messy. Like that of a poor
student. Ashtrays filled with half-smoked joints. Empty beer
cans. A toaster. A kettle. A stereo. A cage containing two
A mattress on the floor.
Newspapers with headlines about the Dockers Strike, England's
crumbling economy, Rolls Royce being bailed out by the
government - subtle reminders of Britain in transition,
leaving behind its strong, imperial past.
JAMES and the NURSE stand against the wall, still half-
dressed, but already passionately making love...
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.
JAMES and the NURSE continue noisily, tirelessly making love
in the shower...
The closer you are to death, the more
alive you FEEL...the more alive you
ARE. And they can see that in you.
FEEL that in you. The way you live.
Willing to risk everything.
11 CONTINUED: 11
JAMES (V/O) (contíd)
With no thought for tomorrow...as if
each day is your last. It's a
wonderful way to live...and the ONLY
way to drive. The only way to get that
tenth of a second on everyone else...
The lovemaking becomes more intense...
To dare to be one step bolder...one
JAMES is covered in perspiration, out on the edge...
Sure one step closer to death...
JAMES and the NURSE, both screaming as they approach orgasm...
But one step closer to victory, too...
JAMES and the NURSE both climax together...and collapse on the
12 EXT. CRYSTAL PALACE RACE TRACK - DAY 12
A grotty old race track in South London.
JAMES and the NURSE arrive at Crystal Palace race track in his
battered old mini. They get out. She looks up, seeing the
mechanics, the racing teams, the cars..
I've never been to a Grand Prix
You still haven't. This is Formula 3.
A lower division. Where people like me
mess about in the hope of finding
sponsors or being talent-spotted to
race in Formula 1.
JAMES leads the NURSE into...
13 THE PADDOCK - CRYSTAL PALACE - DAY 13
The pits where JAMES introduces her to his team...
Everyone, this is Nursie.
Nursie, this is Doc our designer...
How do you do?
Bubbles, our chief mechanic.
How do you do?
Le Patron - Alexander, Lord Hesketh.
How do you do?
Fine, thanks. Blimey...is everyone in
Formula 3 this posh?
Glass of champagne, Nursie?
It's Gemma. No, thanks.
You sure? It's Krug. Clos de Mesnil.
It's also ten in the morning.
Oh, dear. Superstar? You haven't
brought us a bore, have you?
JAMES strips off, changing into his racing overalls.
Trust me. Nursie's anything BUT a
13 CONTINUED: 13
The NURSE, meanwhile, drifts over to look at the car where
BUBBLES is making last minute checks...
That's the car?
That's her. The Dastle Mk 9...with the
Lotus twin-cam sixteen hundred engine.
She's no beauty. But goes like the
An odd-looking car. A bit like a giant Go-kart, blue with
yellow strips along the side and James's name in small
letters. It looks small, dangerously fragile.
The NURSE is shocked to hear a dreadful watery vomiting sound.
She sees JAMES bent over behind the truck...
Nothing to be worried about! Does it
before every race! Good sign,
actually. Means he's stoked!
14 EXT. PADDOCK - SAME TIME 14
JAMES continues vomiting...
There's a lie that all drivers tell
themselves. "Death is something that
happens to other people." That's how
you find the courage to get in the car
in the first place...
JAMES emerges, wiping his mouth...
All right, Superstar?
Never better, Patron.
Because bad things only happen to
Have a gargle with this.
14 CONTINUED: 14
JAMES takes a quick swig of the champagne...gargles, then
swallows, puts on his balaclava...
Problem is deep down you know that's a
lie. That it could happen to you at
Quick toke of this...
HESKETH passes over a joint, which JAMES inhales, taking a
huge lungful from....
So how do you make that terror go
away? Well, booze is good for that.
And wacky baccy. But better than
everything else is...sex.
JAMES goes to the NURSE...and kisses her full on the lips,
then puts on his helmet, and athletically vaults into the car.
JAMES hits the ignition, and a deafening high-pitched SCREAM
as the engine starts...
Ahhhh! What music! They could never
have predicted it, those pioneers that
invented the automobile that it would
possess us like this, in our
imaginations, our dreams. Nursie, men
love women...but even more than that,
men love CARS...
15 EXT. PADDOCK - CRYSTAL PALACE - DAY 15
JAMES notices another driver (NIKI LAUDA), his car already
unloaded, (number 35) and mechanics working on it..
He's new. Some German.
Is there a difference?
15 CONTINUED: 15
JAMES looks over. On the side of the car, painted markings, in
the form of a signature, "Niki Lauda".
All bloody Goosesteppers.
16 EXT. RACE TRACK - CRYSTAL PALACE - DAY 16
JAMES is neck and neck with NIKI. They go into a corner.
NIKI gets there first. Up ahead though, approaching the second
bend...JAMES sees the tiniest, slimmest crack to overtake. No
right-minded driver would risk it. Only a suicidal maniac.
Which just happens to describe JAMES perfectly..
JAMES goes for it. Daringly. Brilliantly. And forces NIKI to
slam on his brakes to prevent a certain crash...
17 EXT. PITS - SAME TIME 17
HESKETH, BUBBLES, DOC and the NURSE watch from the
That move was suicide!
It was also quite brilliant!! God he's
18 EXT. RACE TRACK - DAY 18
JAMES carries on driving. Flat out.
But on the flat, NIKI suddenly comes out of nowhere. As if his
car has 50 bhp more.
And overtakes JAMES. NIKI begins to pull away. And has the
JAMES sees red mist...and in an act of do-or-die vengeful
madness, JAMES goes into a corner far too fast...
...yanks his steering wheel. And outrageously shunts NIKI's
car. An unforgivable act of unsportsmanlike vindictiveness.
NIKI and JAMES's cars both veer off...go into wild, lethal
spins..but luckily for JAMES he ends up facing the right
18 CONTINUED: 18
...and despite being badly shaken, dizzy, JAMES is able to
change gears, and continue driving...
NIKI's car, by contrast, has stalled...and now ends up facing
THE WRONG WAY on the track...
NIKI's eyes look up to see all the cars coming over a brow,
like a herd of Wildebeest, heading towards him...
NIKI rips open his seat-belt, is about to get out of his car,
when one car shoots straight over the nose of his car.
NIKI ducks, then bravely leaps for cover, as....
"SMASH", one of the oncoming cars shunts into his car, (it
would have killed him instantly).
"WHAM", another car narrowly misses him...
"CRASH", another car forces NIKI into an evasive dive...
Cars scream past him on all sides as the race continues...
NIKI, battered, shaken, has had an unbelievably close escape.
He rips off his helmet, furious...
And now we see NIKI LAUDA's face for the first time. Sharp-
featured. Intelligent eyes. Dark hair. Protruding teeth.
Something unmistakably rat-like about him.
19 EXT. CRYSTAL PALACE RACE TRACK - LATE AFTERNOON 19
JAMES is on the podium, having won. He's with the NURSE, and
HESKETH and BUBBLES and his team, spraying them with
NIKI walks past the podium, holding his blue helmet, and
shouts out, still incandescent...
Hey...asshole! That was my line! I had
You mean the one you spun out of? And
finished facing the other way? I think
that corner had you.
19 CONTINUED: 19
That move was total suicide. What if I
hadn't braked? We'd have crashed..!!
But we didn't, did we? Thanks to your
impeccable `survival' instincts...
JAMES makes chicken noises...
Fuck you! What's your name?
James Simon Wallis Hunt. Remember it,
my little Jerry friend. Because one
day he will be World Champion.
Jawohl. Remember ze name. Very simple.
"Hunt". It rhymes with....
"BEEEEP", a car horn hoots nearby, blocking out JAMES's c-word
...a word that happens to describe you
Laughter. NIKI gives JAMES the finger, "Screw you, asshole".
The NURSE watches NIKI go..
Who was that?
No one. Chippy little Kraut. Bad
loser. Forget him.
NIKI continues to walk off, middle finger raised..
20 EXT. VIENNA SKYLINE - DAY 20
To establish: the Austrian capital. OVER THIS: the sound of
In my home town, Vienna, my family is
famous for one thing. Business. My
grandfather was a businessman, my
21 INT. NIKI'S APARTMENT - DAY 21
NIKI is in front of a mirror, and dresses smartly in a jacket,
and open necked shirt, evidently a little nervous...
So when they heard I wanted to race
cars for a living, they had a few
things to say...
22 INT. LAUDA GRANDFATHER HOUSE - NIGHT 22
A large, forbidding dining room. NIKI's FATHER and terrifying
GRANDFATHER, are eating supper. GRANDFATHER shakes his head,
clearly disapproves and barks in German...(we see subtitles)
Never! Racing is for playboys and
dilettantes. Frivolous amateurs with
nothing in their heads. The name
`Lauda' appears on the front pages,
with politicians and economists, not
on the back pages with...
(gestures in contempt)
...footballers and skiers. If you want
my money, you do as I say and follow
me into my business..
NIKI stares at his GRANDFATHER..
It's in moments like this that you
discover who you really are..
...and in a move that he knows will rupture the family for
ever, NIKI gets to his feet..
Fine. Keep your money. Don't invest in
me. But when I'm World Champion, and I
have the trophy, and my name is not
just on the back pages, but on the
front too, you will regret it.
NIKI walks out, the old man's insults ringing in his ears...
You dare sit at my table and lecture
me on what I will or won't regret? Get
out! Impertinent wretch! Consider
23 INT. RAIFEISENKASSE - BANK - DAY 23
NIKI is in a meeting with visibly concerned BANKERS and
LAWYERS. They speak in German...
Another loan? Herr Lauda, you still
haven't repaid the other...
Totalling millions of Schillings. Plus
your Grandfather called to inform us
he will no longer be offering
I know. There is no room for failure.
I understand that.
But I was still a Lauda...
24 INT. NIKI'S CAR/ ROAD TO VIENNA AIRPORT - DAY 24
NIKI is driving his car. Beside him, is the attache case on
his lap. His car passes under a motorway sign reading
...which meant I was still a
businessman above everything else.
25 EXT. VIENNA AIRPORT - DAY 25
A private jet. A balding, blazered Englishman in late middle-
age (LOUIS STANLEY), owner of BRM racing, disembarks onto the
It just so happens that the business I
deal in is speed.
26 INT. VIENNA AIRPORT - CAFE 26
NIKI sits with LOUIS STANLEY in an airport cafe.
Contracts are open on the table. NIKI is signing. LOUIS
STANLEY is counter-signing...
26 CONTINUED: 26
In return for your money you get a
car, mechanics and a place on the
team. Plus fifty per cent of starting
fees and bonuses for podium finishes.
Who's the number one driver?
Clay Regazzoni and you will defer to
him at all times.
NIKI takes out his cheque book and pen. He looks up...
Why would I defer to him if I am
paying his wages?
NIKI writes the cheque. STANLEY's smile fades..
Because he's a proven winner at the
highest level, a good guy, and someone
who quite frankly, could teach you a
thing or two.
NIKI ignores this, continues scrutinizing the contract...
OK. There is one clause missing.
The one about mechanics' exclusivity?
Sorry. We have a cardinal rule at BRM.
All information is shared between ALL
And I made it perfectly clear that my
mechanics work for me. No one else.
This is something I cannot sign.
NIKI takes back the cheque. STANLEY stares...
All right. I'll have the lawyers amend
While you're at it you can tell them
to amend the clause for podium
finishes. Podium is first THREE
places, not just wins.
26 CONTINUED: (2) 26
NIKI puts the cheque in his attache case. Snaps it shut,
taking it with him..
You'll get the money on signature, as
agreed. See you at winter testing.
NIKI gets to his feet, and leaves. STANLEY watches the attache
If that little git drives half as well
as he negotiates, we're going to be
27 OMITTED 27
28 INT. AWARD CEREMONY - NIGHT 28
An awards ceremony is in progress. The room is thick with
cigar and cigarette smoke. A presenter on stage, wearing black
I'm delighted to say the winner of the
British Guild of Motoring Writers
award for the `Most Promising Driver
of the Year' is James Hunt...
A loud, boisterous cheer goes up at the Hesketh Racing table.
JAMES turns to a (new/different) girlfriend beside him, gives
her a lingering kiss on the lips, then gets to his feet,
shakes hands with HESKETH, and BUBBLES and skips up to the
Thank you. My parents always wanted me
to be a doctor, or stockbroker, and
gave me a first class education...but
to no avail. My brothers are the
success stories. I get bored easily. I
have a hot head, an inability to
tolerate discipline. I fall out with
people left and right. I'm quick to
settle matters with my fists. The only
creatures I've ever loved and treated
well, are budgerigars. In any normal
area of life, I'd be...or AM...a total
liability. All I've got going for me
is I'm quick in a car.
28 CONTINUED: 28
A good-looking woman calls out..
That's not all!
So thank you for acknowledging that.
And giving me this...
I'm going to give it to my Dad, and
tell him to put it on the mantle-piece
and imagine it's a first class degree
29 INT. AWARDS CEREMONY - LATER 29
Afterwards: everyone is celebrating. Thanks to JAMES, every
pretty woman in the club is around. The trophy is perched
beside bottles of champagne...
Well done, Superstar. One more season
in F2 then I'll move you up. To the
You don't think I'm ready now?
You are! I'm not! I've got to find you
a car first. And the money. The
economics of Formula 1 are terrifying.
Hurry up. You don't want him to do
what Lauda did.
`Pop', HESKETH opens a bottle of champagne...
The Goosestepper. Remember him?
JAMES makes the chicken noises again..
Said he no longer wanted to risk his
life with "a bunch of crazy amateurs
Is that what he called us?
29 CONTINUED: 29
Nothing wrong with being an amateur!
Said if he was going to risk his life,
he would only do so on the big
roulette table. Formula 1. So he got
himself a drive with BRM.
What? How? He never won a thing! Not a
single bloody race.
Amateurs are what made this country
Took out a loan, apparently. Paid for
"In war, as in lovemaking, amateurs
are invariably better than
professionals." Napoleon Bonaparte.
A hundred and fifty grand!
A hundred and fifty grand?
JAMES stares. Already sick with envy.
That's either an act of utter lunacy,
or the ballsiest thing I ever heard.
30 INT/EXT. RECEPTION PAUL RICARD CIRCUIT - FRANCE - DAY 30
The PAUL RICARD circuit near Marseilles in the South of
France. Where all winter training and testing is done.
NIKI arrives. An attractive woman (AGNES) greets him...
Niki Lauda. Here for pre-season
30 CONTINUED: 30
Take a seat, please. I'll get someone
to come and collect you...
NIKI watches as she telephones the BRM workshops...
Hi. There's someone here for you?
SOMEONE HERE TO SEE YOU.
She hangs up. NIKI decides against pointing out her mistake.
They'll be right here.
A silence. The RECEPTIONIST continues with her work. NIKI
watches her, unsure what to say, (small-talk not his forte)...
Worked here long?
Just wondered if you've worked here
Almost eight years.
That long? And they didn't promote you
Yes, several times. I am the AGNES.
Agnes Bonnet. If you're looking for
the receptionist, she's on her lunch.
NIKI is thrown. Feels humiliated. A total jerk. He is about to
say something when the door opens, and...
Two other F1 DRIVERS walk in..
30 CONTINUED: (2) 30
Glamorous, long-haired, tanned, fashionable - like rock stars,
they talk effortlessly and flirt confidently with AGNES.
What are you doing answering the phones? New haircut! Like it.
What have you done to the weather?
They make her laugh. And smile.
NIKI feels invisible. Embarrassed. Awkward. Inadequate. He
gets to his feet. And goes to the car that has come to collect
As he goes, (unseen by NIKI), AGNES watches him. Ignoring the
other DRIVERS. Intrigued.
He's different. Interesting. Intense. Intelligent eyes.
31 EXT. BRM WORKSHOPS - DAY 31
The car pulls up outside the workshops. NIKI gets out of the
car, and is greeted by LOUIS STANLEY, and the BRM team...
Niki, let me introduce you to our
number 1 driver, Clay Regazzoni..and
our number 2, Jean Pierre Beltoise..
The intimidating, muscular, moustachioed figure of CLAY
REGAZZONI, the Swiss driver. NIKI and CLAY shake hands.
And these are your mechanics,
reporting exclusively to you. As per
REGAZZONI, BELTOISE and STANLEY exchange looks as NIKI shakes
hands, ad-libbed greetings with his MECHANICS.
You want to see the car?
32 INT/EXT. BRM WORKSHOPS - DAY 32
NIKI is led into the workshop to see a red and white Marlboro
sponsored car, number 21, with a tall air-intake duct just
above the driver's helmet...
There she is. The P160..
Same as Regazzoni's?
32 CONTINUED: 32
Identical in every detail.
NIKI scrutinizes the car...
She looks heavy. How much does she
That's crazy. Why so heavy..?
It's a 3 litre, V12 engine, that thing
weighs 190k alone.
What horsepower are you getting out of
Not enough. Needs to be 500 and the
engine needs to be 20k lighter.
We already tried...
Did you use magnesium parts?
The MECHANICS look at one another skeptically...
33 INT. BRM WORKSHOPS - NIGHT 33
Shooting from above:
The entire car has been stripped to a thousand pieces. Now
spread all over the workshop floor.
NIKI's team of mechanics reluctantly work through the night
making the adjustments which NIKI is suggesting...
Any solid plate, strip it out...
More disbelieving, skeptical looks. The car is in pieces on
the floor. NIKI brews coffee to keep people alert. Focused.
33 CONTINUED: 33
And when we've done that, we need to
look at the aerodynamics. Front and
More mutinous looks. "Who is this asshole?"
34 EXT. BRM WORKSHOPS - FIRST LIGHT 34
Daylight breaks over the race-track. The doors to the workshop
open, and the MECHANICS and NIKI emerge - their work done.
NIKI goes to shake hands with the MECHANICS...
OK. Thank you. Good night..
But they're exhausted. Refuse to shake hands with this nut.
35 EXT. PAUL RICARD CIRCUIT - DAY 35
LATER: one of the BRM cars screams round the race-track...
NIKI watches on the sidelines as CLAY REGAZZONI is time-
testing his car. He walks over to where LOUIS STANLEY and
several MECHANICS are doing the timings...
What was his time?
Two minutes six seconds.
OK. Now put him in my car, and he'll
go round under two minutes.
Six seconds faster? Impossible.
NIKI looks up to see AGNES, the attractive TRACK MANAGER again
on the other side of the track.
NIKI waves hi. AGNES waves back. Smiles. NIKI raises his
36 EXT. PAUL RICARD CIRCUIT - DAY 36
REGAZZONI gets into NIKI's car.
37 EXT. PAUL RICARD CIRCUIT - DAY 37
REGAZZONI races round the track at full speed.
REGAZZONI roars past the finishing line in NIKI's car. LOUIS
STANLEY looks at the stop watch..
His expression changes.
38 INT. PAUL RICARD CIRCUIT - DAY 38
STANLEY comes into the workshop where NIKI and his MECHANICS
are in conversation, getting changed...
All right. What did you do to the car?
That's information I will share with
you under certain conditions only.
STANLEY stares, bracing himself..
A guaranteed place in the team, and a
paid contract on equal terms with
Regazzoni for two years.
Are you crazy? Clay's a senior figure
in Formula One...you're a rookie. The
only reason we took you ON was because
you were paying us.
Well, as of now, if you want me to
stay, we rip up the contract. I don't
pay you a cent.
Was he quicker in my car? He was,
Did he go under two minutes?
38 CONTINUED: 38
So have a think, work out your
priorities, and get back to me.
NIKI turns, and goes. STANLEY stares...
Not even my WIFE speaks to me like
39 EXT. PAUL RICARD CIRCUIT - DAY 39
CLAY REGAZZONI emerges from testing his car. Still amazed by
the improved performance. Talking to his MECHANICS. In awe.
He removes his helmet, then stops.
In the distance he sees NIKI talking to AGNES the attractive
TRACK MANAGER. They are clearly hitting it off..
40 INT. PAUL RICARD CIRCUIT - WORKSHOPS - LOCKER-ROOM - DAY 40
NIKI is in the showers, then getting changed for his date with
AGNES. He is about to go, when he stops, and sees...
CLAY REGAZZONI getting undressed, looking at NIKI. CLAY speaks
English with an Italian accent..
I know what you're going to say. That
it's none of my business...
If it's the Track Manager you're
taking on your date tonight?
NIKI immediately becomes defensive...
It's none of your business.
Okay, but if you want my advice...I'd
let this one go. I'm not questioning
your taste. She's a great girl.
40 CONTINUED: 40
But Agnes's last boyfriend was a
British Formula 2 driver, who has a
reputation for two things. For being a
suicidal jerk on the track, and for
going all night, and all day
afterwards...and all night again in
bed. He's an OK driver, but an
IMMORTAL fuck, apparently. I don't
know about you, but that's not an act
I'd like to follow.
But if that doesn't bother you...
What's his name? The driver?
Hunt. James Hunt.
NIKI stares. Can hardly believe it.
See? You share information, I share
CLAY slaps NIKI on his back, and goes into the showers..
That's what team-mates are for.
41 EXT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT 41
A restaurant in Marseilles. Through the window we can see
AGNES, the attractive TRACK MANAGER sitting at a table alone.
Waiting for NIKI.
Reverse angle to reveal:
42 INT. NIKI'S CAR/ MARSEILLES STREET - SAME TIME 42
NIKI is sitting in a car across the street. He stares at AGNES
in the restaurant. Then starts his car, and drives off.
FADE TO BLACK:
43 EXT. EASTON NESTON - HESKETH RACING HQ - DAY 43
Easton Neston. Set in 3,300 acres, one of England's great
country houses. Home to the Fermor-Hesketh family since 1700.
JAMES and a new GIRLFRIEND drive up the gravel drive in his
anything but grandiose Mini. It splutters to a stop, just in
They are greeted by uniformed STAFF who take his tatty bags
from his filthy car.
44 INT. HESKETH RACING WORKSHOPS - EASTON NESTON - DAY 44
The Hesketh Racing workshops, situated in the converted
stables on the estate. HESKETH leads a blindfolded JAMES in...
Keep them closed...! Wait for it, wait
HESKETH removes JAMES's blindfold...
There! What do you say?
JAMES opens his eyes to see a gorgeous F1 racing car, plain
white, no stickers...
Isn't she a beauty? The March 731.
Converted by the brilliant Doc..!
DOC POSTLETHWAITE takes a modest bow. JAMES shakes hands with
everyone, including his brother, (and manager), PETER..
She is a beauty. But...haven't you
made a mistake?
That's not a Formula 2 car. She's F1.
She is, Superstar. Why? Because I got
together with the beancounters, and it
turns out that the economics of F1 are
not so significantly different to the
economics of Formula 2...
BUBBLES clears his throat, dutifully bites his tongue..
44 CONTINUED: 44
So we thought if we were going to be
messing about losing money we might as
well be doing it with the big boys.
Are you serious?
Never been more serious in my life!
JAMES embraces HESKETH in excitement, kisses him...
Actually, I got the idea after what
you said about the Austrian chap who
bought his way in rather than waste
his time in the lower divisions. I
thought, "Bloody hell, he's right!"
JAMES slips into the cockpit...
Well done the Goosestepper!!
No sponsorship, Superstar! I hope you
I do, Patron.
No vulgar logos for cigarettes, or
condoms. Just plain white. With the
Union Jack. And racing overalls which
HESKETH indicates JAMES's hanging racing overalls...
"Sex. Breakfast of Champions." Unless
it's me, of course, in which case it's
two kippers, porridge, boiled eggs,
and half a dozen slices of toast...
So when do we start?
Soon as you're ready.
44 CONTINUED: (2) 44
I'm ready now.
That's my boy!
HESKETH pops champagne...
They won't know what's hit them!
45 EXT. SPANISH GP - RACE TRACK -27 APRIL 1975- DAY 45
To establish: a Formula 1 race track on Grand Prix week-end..
A helicopter comes in to land.
The Hesketh Racing Team makes a grand entrance with a retinue
of BUTLERS, GIRLS, ROLLS' ROYCE's, oysters, champagne...
A famous ex-champion TV REPORTER is there (Stirling Moss)
providing skeptical commentary about Hesketh's debut...
...hard to tell whether Lord Hesketh
and his team of upper class
enthusiasts is bringing glamour to the
racing community, or just comedy...
They walk around in their own branded clothing. Alexander's
jacket reads, "Le Patron". He speaks to MOSS.
Rolled eyes among other racing teams who express surprise,
curiosity (and frequently disapproval) at these new arrivals..
It's certainly the first time I can
remember seeing a butler serving
caviar and oysters in the pits...
Suddenly pandemonium breaks out. Screams. Something has
happened. A bad accident on the track. During testing...
...reports are reaching me of a
serious accident that has just taken
place in qualifying....
All smiles fade. The party atmosphere changes in a flash.
Panic breaks out.
The sound of sirens. Ambulances rushing to the scene of the
accident. All the JOURNALISTS and TV CREWS rush off, too.
45 CONTINUED: 45
HESKETH, BUBBLES and JAMES look at one another, put down their
champagne glasses, and follow...
46 EXT. RACE TRACK - SPAIN - DAY 46
Mangled wreckage. A car has crashed into (badly installed)
Armco guard rails, splitting the railing in two...
The DRIVER has been decapitated. His helmeted HEAD lies
cleanly severed on the ground...
A goldfish-bowl of blood.
It's a horrific accident. People SCREAM and look away. Even
hardened medical professionals...
JAMES, HESKETH, BUBBLES arrive on the scene of the accident.
But they are kept away, at a distance...
...it seems the driver...just twenty-
six years old....was killed on
impact...and the death toll in Formula
1 shows no sign of slowing down...
47 INT. HESKETH PITS - SPANISH GRAND PRIX - DAY 47
JAMES, dressed in his overalls, is violently retching. Sick
with nerves. A TV plays in the pits...
...in the last five years alone
Formula 1 has lost Piers Courage, Jo
Siffert, Peter Revson, Jochen Rindt,
Francois Cevert, Roger Williamson...
ON TV: quickfire clips of the terrible, violent deaths.
BUBBLES hastily switches off the TV as JAMES walks past...
48 EXT. PADDOCK - DAY 48
JAMES walks out of the paddock, towards his car. Other DRIVERS
gathered in concerned groups, talking...
They should cancel the race.
Then, a distinctive Austrian accent..
48 CONTINUED: 48
Why? No one came to see him anyway.
He made a mistake. Went into the
corner too fast.
Is that right? So says the nobody who
had to pay for his own drive. How's
that working out, by the way?
Fine. How's it at the back?
Not planning on being there for long.
Good. Look forward to you showing me
the way today.
`Be happy to. I'll have you inside lap
JAMES walks off to his car, shaking his head..
NIKI walks to his car, putting on his helmet.
49 OMITTED 49
50 OMITTED 50
51 OMITTED 51
52 OMITTED 52
53 OMITTED 53
54 OMITTED 54
55 OMITTED 55
56 OMITTED 56
57 OMITTED 57
48 CONTINUED: (2) 48
58 OMITTED 58
59 EXT. SPANISH GRAND PRIX PADDOCK/ PODIUM - DAY 59
NIKI is on the podium, spraying champagne. He is wearing the
Meanwhile: JAMES's car is embarrassingly being brought back by
a tow-truck. NIKI watches from the podium..
His eyes meet JAMES's..
60 INT. BAR - HOTEL - NIGHT 60
JAMES and BUBBLES and PETER HUNT (JAMES's blazer-wearing
manager and elder brother), sit together at a table in the
corner. It's late. A frank post-mortem. Drinking and talking..
Niki humiliated me today. He lapped me
He lapped Carlos Pace six times.
That's supposed to console me? What do
I need to do?
Shut up, Moneyman. `Didn't ask you..
Your brother's right. You've got to
change your attitude. We all do. And
match it with a whole different mental
approach. Professionalism. Maturity.
Bet he doesn't go out every night,
drink and screw himself stupid.
So speaks the jealous married man..
No. So speaks the manager who's
wasting his time, making ten per cent
of absolutely nothing.
60 CONTINUED: 60
You've just got to take it more
seriously. Yourself more seriously.
Something he's never done.
Don`t patronize me, Pete...
We need you to spend less time in bars
Make that NO time...
And more time with the mechanics,
setting up the car. That's what Lauda
does. 24 hours a day.
JAMES rolls his eyes...
God knows there's nothing wrong with
your talent. Or courage. It's purely a
character issue right now.
And the good news is I've got Sigmund
Freud Horsely, failed driver par
excellence, and a washed-up accountant
to lecture me on it.
BUBBLES walks off. PETER HUNT walks off. JAMES calls out..
Bubbles? I'm sorry..! I didn't mean
that! Come back..!
61 OMITTED 61
62 OMITTED 62
63 OMITTED 63
64 OMITTED 64
65 OMITTED 65
60 CONTINUED: (2) 60
66 OMITTED 66
67 EXT. EASTON NESTON - DAY 67
The grand Hesketh estate in the Northamptonshire countryside.
68 INT. HESKETH RACING WORKSHOPS - EASTON NESTON - DAY 68
JAMES is in the workshops, his hands and arms filthy, he's
been working on the car - but now his eyes are closed.
Memorizing tracks. Around him people are working on the car..
....along the Beau Rivage, long left
into Massenet, into the short right of
Casino. Sharp right into Mirabeau,
then sharp left into Loews, mind the
Is Alexander around..?
JAMES opens his eyes to see an endless pair of legs, a drop-
dead gorgeous figure, and the beautiful smiling face of SUZY
MILLER, the most successful model of the day.
He was. Then went to the house to take
a call. He'll be back shortly.
Only he wanted to show off his pride
SUZY indicates the car...
...rhymes with `boy' if you ask me.
And `toy'. I can't believe what I'm
It's just so small! For something that
costs so much. And so flimsy. There's
no comfort. No protection. Nothing.
No. Just a little coffin, surrounded
by high-octane fuel, being driven
round at 170 miles per hour..
68 CONTINUED: 68
To all intents and purposes a bomb. On
Why don't they make it safer?
No one wants it to be. It's like
saying why not make bullfighting
safer? It's a blood sport. The risk of
death turns people on. Without it, I
guess, it'd be half the fun. Which is
fine for the voyeurs, fine for TV,
fine for everyone..
...except us drivers.
SUZY looks JAMES up and down. Sees the bare feet, the rock
star good looks...
You're James, aren't you?
Thought so. You fit the description.
Suzy. Friend of Alex's.
I know exactly.
In the background: one of the MECHANICS shows DOC a picture of
SUZY from a tabloid newspaper. She's clearly the most famous
model in Britain, and a star in her own right...
What was the description?
Mostly positive in terms of
appearance. Negative only in terms of
character. I've been told to avoid
Alex. He says you're a bad boy.
68 CONTINUED: (2) 68
Was. Not any more. New me very
professional. Early to bed. Early to
rise. All very dull.
Round-the-clock work, practise and
focus. Tedious, but apparently the
only way to vin against ze
Is that what you were doing when you
Visualization techniques. Memorizing
the circuit, in this case Monaco,
which is next up. Eyes closed, know
your way round in your sleep...
I know...I've always been a great
believer in getting there on the day,
putting the old foot down and playing
chicken with everyone else.
But they don't want me to do that
anymore...they want my body like a
temple. My mind like Monk.
And your soul? Your heart?
What does that mean?
You can't be so disciplined in all
areas of your life, can you..?
They want me to stop messing around,
get married and settle down with the
next nice girl I meet. They think it
would be good for me.
What do you think?
68 CONTINUED: (3) 68
Sounds bloody awful.
SUZY laughs again...
But since they're right about most
things, they're probably right about
JAMES looks SUZY up and down...
You don't fancy getting married, do
69 EXT. BROMPTON ORATORY CHURCH - LONDON - DAY 69
The sound of ringing bells. London's grandest Catholic church
in the heart of Knightsbridge..
70 OMITTED 70
71 EXT. BROMPTON ORATORY CHURCH - DAY 71
JAMES and SUZY, top hat and tails, flowing white wedding
dress, looking ravishing, emerge from the church.
JAMES and SUZY fall into a passionate, sexy embrace for the
paparazzi cameras. Loud cheers go up, led by HESKETH and
They make their way to the waiting convoy of cars...
On his way: JAMES spots a serious-faced HESKETH and DOC
POSTLETHWAITE in conversation with some Formula 1 types in the
SUZY is pulled away for photos. Clearly a bigger star even
than JAMES. JAMES turns to BUBBLES, indicates HESKETH...
Nothing. I don't want to ruin your
BUBBLES stares, then reluctantly...
71 CONTINUED: 71
It seems your revenge against the
Goosestepper might have to wait a
little longer than you'd hoped.
He's just been signed by Ferrari.
WHAT??? But that's the best team in
the world. They could have ANYONE. Did
he pay his way in there, too?
Apparently they took back Regazzoni
and he insisted they give Lauda a
trial. Thinks he's a genius. Setting
up the cars...
JAMES stares...then is pulled away to pose in photographs with
SUZY and her FAMILY.
72 EXT. FIORANO - NORTHERN ITALY - DAY 72
FERRARI's state-of-the-art practise facilities and private
test-track in Northern Italy.
72A INT. FERRARI CONTROL ROOM 72A
Closed circuit television, with 10 cameras and a complex track
timing system and computers....
72B EXT. FIORANO - TRACK SIDE 72B
ENZO FERRARI himself, the Commendatore, a formidable white-
haired patriarch in Onassis dark glasses, reads newspapers,
sitting by the race tracks, barely looking up as two red
Ferrari's roar round the track...
LUCA DI MONTEZEMOLO, the young, dynamic, aristocratic manager
of the Scuderia, by contrast, watches eagle-eyed..
72C EXT. FIORANO - TRACKSIDE - LATER 72C
The two cars stop, and NIKI and CLAY REGAZZONI gets out. NIKI
talks (in a mix of Italian and English) to his MECHANIC,
giving them typically blunt feedback...
It's terrible! Drives like a pig!
72C CONTINUED: 72C
Sssshhh! You can't say that!
It's a Ferrari!
I've driven better milk floats. It
understeers like crazy and the weight
distribution is a disaster...
The MECHANIC gulps, then walks over to where the terrifying
COMMENDATORE and LUCA DI MONTEZEMOLO are sitting, and passes
on the information...
He says the car is magnificent, a
masterpiece, but he has suggestions
for one or two minor refinements...
73 INT. FERRARI PRESS CONFERENCE - DAY 73
A large press conference, with motoring JOURNALISTS and
television CREWS from all over the world attending...
ENZO FERRARI and LUCA DI MONTEZEMOLO addresses the conference
(in Italian) which is translated by a translator...
We are happy to welcome back to the
Ferrari family our good friend, Clay
Regazzoni...and also to introduce,
from Austria Niki Lauda..
A burst of flash photography. NIKI and REGAZZONI sit side by
74 EXT. ITALIAN COUNTRY ROADS - DAY 74
A car drives fast on country roads in Northern Italy...
75 INT. CAR - SAME TIME 75
CLAY REGAZZONI is driving, NIKI is in the passenger seat...
"Ferrari Family". "Our good friend,
75 CONTINUED: 75
You're friend and family to the
Commendatore as long as you win. The
minute you don't..
I understand. It's business. I would
be the same.
But it isn't just business, is it?
What we do? It's passion. Love. Which
is why we're prepared to risk our
lives for it.
Not me. If I thought I had more talent
and could earn better money doing
something else, I would.
But how do you know you will make
money here? You haven't yet.
Not yet. But I will.
If you can, I can.
REGAZZONI shakes his head, can't help smiling...
You know, are you ever NOT an asshole?
Why am I an asshole? You know by now
I'm both quicker than you and better
at setting up the car. You can't deal
with that, then you're the asshole.
REGAZZONI pulls up outside the house...
I brought you along today because you
seem like a lonely kind of guy. I
thought if I introduce you to some
nice people, it'd be good for you.
Forget it. Make your own friends.
75 CONTINUED: (2) 75
REGAZZONI walks ahead, disappears through the front door,
where he is warmly welcomed, and invited into a party.
NIKI calls after him...
I'm sorry. C'mon, Clay...
76 EXT. COUNTRY HOUSE - NORTHERN ITALY - DAY 76
NIKI stares through the window. Inside: a very appealing
looking bunch - young, good-looking, cool, sexy GUESTS - all
having a good time..
By contrast: NIKI catches his own reflection in the glass
reflection. Pale. Intense. The outsider.
Inside: REGAZZONI is surrounded by friends, telling a story.
NIKI watches. Then turns to walk away. As he goes, the front
And a beautiful dark-haired woman (MARLENE) emerges loading
several BAGS into a car. Brunette, tan. Wearing a white dress.
Are you leaving?
Can you give me a lift to the nearest
town? Anywhere with a train station.
Sure. Nearest town is half an hour's
drive. Get in.
77 OMITTED 77
78 EXT. ROAD - DAY 78
The car drives. The radio plays. Marlene sings along. NIKI
can't help noticing something. He turns down the music.
MARLENE's smile fades..
What are you doing?
78 CONTINUED: 78
You hear that noise when you
Your drive belt is loose.
Alternator. And when you brake, your
foot goes all the way down. Means
there's air in the system.
No. Apart from the rear brakes are
imbalanced. The front right wheel is
flat, and it feels like a crack in the
engine block...which explains why
you're drifting so much.
How can you tell?
God gave me an OK mind, but a really
good ass, which can feel everything in
You don't know what you're talking
about. The car is fine. And it just
had a service a week ago.
Not a good one.
A very good one. From a proper garage.
It cost a fortune. This car is good as
79 EXT. MOTORWAY - HARD SHOULDER - DAY 79
White smoke pours from the engine. The car has broken down.
Bonnet up. NIKI has tried fixing it, but to no avail.
NIKI has a fan belt in his hand, but it's all but
disintegrated under the heat of the over-worked engine.
NIKI's hands are covered in oil. He is pushing a pen into a
large crack in the engine, slick with oil and grease.
Nothing I can do here. The car needs a
I'm sorry. You're not in a hurry, are
No. As long as I'm back in Maranello
by Monday morning.
NIKI walks out into the road. Sticks out his thumb...
So who are you anyway?
MARLENE breaks into GERMAN...(we see sub-titles)...
You're from Vienna, aren't you. We can
speak German. How do you know Curd?
Curd Jurgens. The actor. It's his
house. He is, or was until yesterday,
my boyfriend. I must have been mad!
There is something very attractive
about an older man when they behave
like one. But when they behave like a
MARLENE gets to her feet...
C'mon, let me do this. Otherwise we'll
never get out of here. We're in Italy,
MARLENE indicates that NIKI should take a back seat, hitches
up her skirt, showing long, tanned legs..
79 CONTINUED: 79
Immediately a passing car screeches to a halt, then reverses
noisily to pull level. MARLENE smiles at NIKI...
Not bad, eh? Three seconds. Admit it,
MARLENE smiles flirtatiously at the handsome, young Italian
MEN driving the open-topped sports car..
But the Italian MEN walk right past her, not seeing her, as if
she's invisible, and stare at NIKI...
Excuse me...are you Niki Lauda?
Oh, my God...!!! I told you it was
Do you need a ride?
Yes, we do...
The ITALIAN MAN gestures to his car, as his friend loads
MARLENE's luggage inside...
An honour, please!!! But on one
The ITALIAN MAN whisper in NIKI's ear. MARLENE stares, not
understanding, as NIKI protests, but then slowly, reluctantly
gets into the car. He starts the engine.
MARLENE watches as the ITALIAN MEN strap themselves in with
the seat-belts, tightening them...giggling like schoolboys..
Will someone please tell me what's
MARLENE turns to NIKI...
79 CONTINUED: (2) 79
Who are you, anyway? What do you DO?
You don't know? He's a Formula I
driver. Who just signed for Ferrari!
Him? Never. Impossible!
Formula 1 drivers have long hair, are
sexy, have shirts open to here..
Anyway, look at the way he's driving!!
Like an old man!!
It's true. NIKI is driving in the slow lane. Like a pensioner.
No need to drive fast. It only
increases the percentage of risk.
We're not in a hurry. No one is paying
me. Right now, with zero incentive or
reward, why would I drive fast?
MARLENE looks at him with her dark green eyes...
Because I'm asking you to.
And do you always get what you want?
NIKI stares, trying to resist...but cannot. He does a
"SLAM", NIKI's foot hits the floor, the engine screams, the
rev counter flies to the right...
And the open-topped sports car lurches into warp-drive...
79 CONTINUED: (3) 79
MARLENE is thrown back hard in her seat, "Jesus", her eyes
widen in terror and amazement..
Oh, my God...!!
The ITALIAN MEN scream in excitement, holding on for dear life
as NIKI, his heart not a beat over 60, takes the car to
breaking point, in a way it's never been driven before...
NIKI overtakes everyone on the motorway, fearlessly weaving
between cars at twice their speed..
We CLOSE on NIKI's eyes, remaining dead calm as his passengers
scream all around him, as he accelerates through the other
cars on the motorway...
His EYES remain calm, his WHEELS a blur of speed, and we...
MATCH CUT TO:
80 EXT. USA GP - WATKINS GLEN - 5TH OCTOBER 1975 - TRACK - DAY 80
Calm EYES, and WHEELS moving in a blur of speed. We're in the
middle of a Grand Prix, and NIKI is driving at the limit...
Ahead of him: a familiar sight. The back of JAMES HUNT's
81 EXT. PITS - DAY 81
MARLENE watches on TV in the pits as NIKI is engaged in an
epic tussle with JAMES...
Commentators note the improvement in JAMES's technique,
maturity and performance. But then, "Puff", a plume of smoke
comes out of JAMES's engine. The engine has blown...
Immediately JAMES loses speed, and NIKI sails past, overtaking
effortlessly. Taking the chequered flag.
Television commentary in various languages tells us: NIKI
LAUDA has become world champion...
82 EXT. FERRARI PITS/USA GP TRACK SIDE - DAY 82
NIKI's car pulls in, to be mobbed by jubilant MECHANICS as he
gets out of his car, removing his helmet, embraced by a
delighted LUCA DI MONTEZEMOLO...
82 CONTINUED: 82
...then falling into a passionate kiss with MARLENE...
Champion of the World, he is immediately swallowed up by
REPORTERS who are demanding interviews in Italian, German,
83 EXT. USA GP/PADDOCK - DAY 83
An impromptu party in the paddock area. The victor's garland
still round his neck, proudly holding the FIA World Champion
trophy, his hair matted with champagne, NIKI passes through
the crowds, accepting everyone's congratulations..
He runs into JAMES, who's in bare feet as usual. MARLENE is
pulled away to talk to someone else..
Though with a car like that, the rest
of us never stood a chance...
Maybe the fact the car is so good
might have something to do with me.
You're still in a Ferrari. And I'm
still in a Hesketh. On equal terms,
the way it was in Formula 3, I'd beat
you, and you know it.
Never. You might get lucky and win one
race. Maybe two. Because you're
aggressive. But in the long run, over
the course of a season, no chance.
Because you're not serious. You're
just a party guy. Which is why
everyone likes you.
Now try saying that and tell me you're
83 CONTINUED: 83
But all that affection, all those
smiles is also a sign of their
disrespect! They don't fear you.
Whereas compare that to me...
Whom no one likes...
Not even his own team-mates..
Right! Because I'm relentless. I don't
screw up. I go to bed early. I look
after myself, look after my car. And
then, soon as the race is finished, I
go home. You should go home more
often, too. I heard you got married.
So where is she?
In New York. Working.
You know I've never seen you with her,
NIKI turns to MARLENE, "Let's go"..
84 EXT. EASTON NESTON - DAY 84
JAMES's Mini roars furiously up the long gravel driveway
towards Easton Neston. Screeches to a halt.
JAMES gets out of the car. Is greeted by staff, whom he
uncharacteristically ignores, storming past...
85 INT. EASTON NESTON - WORKSHOP - DAY 85
JAMES walks into the workshops where BUBBLES HORSLEY is busy
85 CONTINUED: 85
Right, whatever it takes to beat
Lauda, just say it, your word is my
command. I'll do it. There are no
lengths to which I will not go. And I
mean it this time...
JAMES stops, noticing BUBBLES's expression...
What's the matter?
Then JAMES notices what BUBBLES is doing. He's packing.
What are you doing?
Then JAMES notices the lack of activity in the workshops. None
of the usual mechanics, or engineers..
Where is everyone?
BUBBLES looks up. Unsure how to break it to him.
86 INT. DRAWING-ROOM - EASTON NESTON - DAY 86
An old drawing-room. The open fire roars. But HESKETH is
uncharacteristically quiet. Defeated..
Do you know what the date is today?
Do you have any idea of the
significance of that date?
I'm assuming it refers to some animal
you are allowed or no longer allowed
to slaughter on your estate.
Actually it's the deadline for
securing sponsorship for the
forthcoming Formula 1 season.
Which elapsed at midnight last night.
And we didn't attract any.
86 CONTINUED: 86
So? We aren't looking for sponsorship.
Condoms and cigarettes. Vulgar, right?
Right. Except we are. Or were. I've
made something of a miscalculation.
The economics. Formula 1. Reality
thereof. Turns out not like the lower
divisions at all.
What are you saying?
I'm saying it's over, Superstar. The
banks have stepped in. Read me the
riot act. Started laying everyone off.
Probably have to sell this place. Fun
while it lasted, would do it all again
and all that...
I daren't tell you the actual figures.
JAMES stares at a devastated HESKETH...
87 INT. JAMES'S FLAT - LONDON - NIGHT 87
JAMES is on the phone to his brother PETER, while playing
Scale-electrix cars on a track alone, barefoot...
I need a drive, Pete. Need you to find
me a drive.
What does that mean? "My reputation
"Crash", the electric toy car crashes...
Really? Is that what they said?
Did they at least say a "Quick
Bollocks to Lotus. Find me someone
else. I'll go mad otherwise.
"Click", JAMES hangs up. SUZY walks in. Sees his mood..
87 CONTINUED: 87
Don't worry. Something will turn up.
JAMES opens a bottle of Scotch, pours himself a drink...
But I doubt that will help in the
JAMES knocks back the drink...
Why don't we go away for the week-end?
Before I leave again for New York?
JAMES carries on drinking..
Talk to me, James. Don't make a
stranger of me.
JAMES doesn't react...
I can't watch this.
SUZY picks up her coat, and bag..
What were you hoping for? A well-
adjusted knight in shining armour?
No danger of that....
Let me give you some advice.
I'm all ears...
Don't go to men who are willing to
kill themselves driving in circles
looking for normality.
Well, I certainly didn't get that...
Should have gone for one of my
87 CONTINUED: (2) 87
There goes that self-pity again.
How striking it is -
What's that? Tell me..
The gulf between appearance and
reality. Look at you, all sunshine
blonde beauty and smiles...yet the
reality is...a frightened, immature,
depressed, self-pitying child...
At least there's SOMETHING behind the
With a nasty temper..
Fuck off to New York, dear. There must
be a moisturizer or eye shadow
somewhere that needs your vapid mush
to flog it.
How quickly beauty can turn ugly.
SUZY stares...and goes. JAMES carries on drinking.
88 OMITTED 88
89 OMITTED 89
90 INT. JAMES'S FLAT - FOLLOWING MORNING 90
The following morning. The phone rings. Piercing the darkness.
JAMES, clearly the worse for wear, is talking to his beloved
A surprising vulnerability, and childlike innocence about
JAMES. He strokes the birds with real tenderness..
The phone continues ringing. JAMES picks it up...
90 CONTINUED: 90
JAMES (INTO PHONE)
JAMES listens, then hears something on the phone that makes
him sit up...
JAMES (INTO PHONE)
JAMES is waking rapidly now..
JAMES (INTO PHONE)
Just get me in a room with them, Pete.
Say anything. Today? Yes, I can do
I can be there in an hour.
JAMES starts scribbling down the address.
91 EXT. MCLAREN HQ - TO ESTABLISH 91
The headquarters of McLaren Racing in Colnbrook, Bucks.
A small, unassuming building on the Poyle Trading Estate. Bare
brickwork surrounds a brash yellow facade, with the words
`MCLAREN RACING' in large white letters.
92 INT. MCLAREN HQ - BOARDROOM - DAY 92
A large boardroom. Team Director TEDDY MAYER (American, from
Pennsylvania, short, lawyerly, 50's - hair turning grey) sits
at the head of the table.
Next to him is Aussie Marlboro spokesman JOHN HOGAN and
McLaren Team Manager and chief mechanic ALASTAIR CALDWELL.
The atmosphere is tense, uncomfortable...
I'll come straight to the point. Our
esteemed lead driver...
Has ditched us for another team at the
In November. Fucking outrageous.
92 CONTINUED: 92
And we need a replacement. Asap.
Thankfully a few hands have already
gone up. Good people...
Like Jackie Ickx.
I'm quicker than Jackie.
But he's consistent, dependable.
Sponsor friendly. He'll dress up nice.
Say the right things.
What do you want? A driver or a
We want to be successful.
So do I. But I measure that in podium
finishes and beating Niki Lauda not
being a show pony for sponsors.
I've heard about this thing with
You really think you can beat him?
He's World Champion.
I beat him in Formula 3.
This season alone he's had eight
podiums, five wins, you've had what?
Only because I've been in the wrong
car. I beat him when the playing field
was level. I'd beat him again in a
92 CONTINUED: (2) 92
It's the only car out there as good as
the Ferrari. Which is why I'm here,
JAMES stares imploringly..
I'll do whatever you ask. Even put on
a suit, talk to sponsors and say the
right thing. I promise.
Just give me the drive...
CALDWELL, HOGAN and MAYER look at one another...
93 OMITTED 93
94 OMITTED 94
95 OMITTED 95
96 OMITTED 96
97 OMITTED 97
98 EXT. SOUTH AFRICA GRAND PRIX - KYALAMI - 6TH MARCH 1976- DAY 98
Various shots, to establish. South Africa in the apartheid
era. We notice black race FANS unable to get into the track..
CAPTION: "THE 1976 FORMULA 1 SEASON"
...welcome to the Kyalami Racetrack
where the big news is..
99 EXT. SOUTH AFRICA - KYALAMI RACE TRACK - DAY 99
Crowds flood to the spectator stands. The pit lane stretches
into the distance, filled with cars, drivers and mechanics...
...that Britain's James Hunt in his
first race for Mclaren has qualified
fastest, beating Niki Lauda's Ferrari
to pole by two hundredths of a second.
In the crowds to watch the race none
other than movie stars Richard Burton
and Liz Taylor...
We pick out RICHARD BURTON and LIZ TAYLOR waving to screaming
100 EXT. STARTING GRID - KYALAMI - DAY 100
NIKI and JAMES's cars lined up in positions 1 and 2 on the
starting grid. JAMES proudly indicates to NIKI...
I noticed that, too.
Level playing field now, my ratty
Let's see where we are at the end of
NIKI calls after JAMES as he walks to his car...
Let's see where we are in six races
JAMES turns, makes a ratty face at NIKI. Protruding teeth.
101 EXT. VIP GRANDSTAND - DAY 101
RICHARD BURTON and LIZ TAYLOR are shown into the VIP area of
the paddock. They take their seats.
Will this take very long?
An OFFICIAL introduces BURTON to various people - among them
Richard Burton...Suzy Miller, also
known as Mrs. James Hunt.
There it is. The deep, dark, sonorous Welsh baritone
voice...scarred by alcohol and cigarettes...
101 CONTINUED: 101
James Hunt. One of the racers.
Forgive me. Richard.
Also known as Mr. Elizabeth Taylor.
He indicates LIZ who is deeply bored..
What does a girl have to do to get a
drink around here?
SUZY smiles. Their eyes meet. And no eyes are more beautiful
than SUZY's. An immediate connection between them.
Their hands hold a fraction too long as they shake...
102 OMITTED 102
103 OMITTED 103
104 EXT. RACE TRACK - DAY 104
NIKI's car roars past the finishing line first. JAMES closely
CAPTION: "SOUTH AFRICA. LAUDA WINS. HUNT SECOND."
104AEXT. PODIUM - KYALAMI - DAY 104A
JAMES and NIKI are on the podium together...
My car wasn't right today. Next time
I'll have you..
105 OMITTED 105
106 OMITTED 106
107 OMITTED 107
108 EXT. SPANISH GRAND PRIX - JARAMA, 2ND MAY 1976- DAY 108
JAMES's car takes the chequered flag, finishing first!!!
108AINT/EXT. MCLAREN PITS 108A
In the pits: TEDDY MAYER, ALASTAIR CALDWELL and JOHN HOGAN
leap to their feet in delight. Punching the air. Victory..
CAPTION: "RACE 3. SPAIN. HUNT WINS..."
108BEXT. SPANISH GRAND PRIX PODIUM/ PITLANE 108B
Afterwards: JAMES and NIKI are on the podium together...
What did I tell you? Car fixed. Equal
terms. You'd better get used to this.
JAMES walks off, to celebrate with the McLaren team...
NIKI stares darkly - threatened - watching JAMES go..
...then goes to talk to LUCA DE MONTEZEMOLO and the FERRARI
CAPTION: "...BUT IS THEN DISQUALIFIED".
109 EXT. SPANISH GP PADDOCK/ PARC FERME- DAY 109
A huge furore as several OFFICIALS and FERRARI TEAM MEMBERS,
and TV CREWS surround JAMES's car...
Raised voices debating the width of the car, HUNT furious,
people almost coming to blows...
The car is too wide..
Five eighths of an inch..!
Which makes it illegal! If you want to
compete, you have to change it.
What? You can't just `change it'. That
means rebuilding the car. Who lodged
the complaint? It was Ferrari, wasn't
The two rival PIT CREWS, (McLaren and Ferrari), scream abuse
at one another in Italian and English - a highly charged and
CAPTION: "LAUDA GETS MAXIMUM POINTS"
109 CONTINUED: 109
NIKI watches from the inside of the FERRARI TRAILER.
110 INT. MCLAREN WORKSHOP - NIGHT 110
The McLaren MECHANICS, supervised by Alastair Caldwell, are
making adjustments to the car to make it `legal'..
...we have to move the wing forward.
To make it legal...
But that'll have a knock-on effect on
the oil coolers..
JAMES watches - already fearing the worst - as the car is
stripped down, effectively being rebuilt...
111 OMITTED 111
111AEXT. WATKINS GLEN 1976 - DAY 111A
"BANG", JAMES's car shudders violently, the wheels shake as
the drive shaft snaps...
CAPTION: "RACE 4. LAUDA WINS. HUNT RETIRES."
111BEXT. MONACO GRAND PRIX 1976- DAY 111B
"BOOM", a loud explosion. A thick plume of black smoke billows
from the engine...
No! No! No!
CAPTION: "RACE 5. LAUDA WINS AGAIN. HUNT RETIRES."
111CEXT. BELGIUM GP 1976 - ZOLDER - DAY 111C
"CRASH" - JAMES spins out...and a tyre bounces along the
track...JAMES's car has crashed into a wall...
I can't stand it...
The tyre continues bouncing, people diving out of it's path,
before the tyre finally smashes into a hot-dog stand...
CAPTION: "RACE 6. LAUDA WINS AGAIN. HUNT RETIRES."
112 OMITTED 112
113 EXT. BELGIUM GRAND PRIX - ZOLDER - PITLANE - DAY 113
JAMES storms back into the pits, screaming at MAYER, CALDWELL
and the MECHANICS...
What's happened? What have you DONE??
The car's evil! It's undriveable..!
CAPTION: "LAUDA 56 POINTS, HUNT 6"
113AINT. PADDOCK/PRESS TENT - DAY 113A
Later: the victorious NIKI, wearing the garland, is all
smiles, giving `winner' interviews, surrounded by MARLENE and
a delighted LUCA DI MONTEZEMOLO.
JAMES is also giving interviews, but in a total fury.
Vibrating with anger. Still complaining about the
disqualification. Complaining about a conspiracy. Complaining.
NIKI finishes talking to JOURNALISTS, and walks off, through
crowds, and bumps into JAMES..
So...six races in. How's it going so
Fine! Just got a little problem with a
bad loser rat and his team of Italian
saboteurs who've destroyed my car.
What are you talking about?
I won that race in Spain. And you know
In an illegal car.
The aerofoil was five eighths of an
inch too long!! Something that doesn't
have the slightest effect on car
speed. You complained. Now we've had
to totally rebuild the car and it's
become a monster.
At least it's a LEGAL monster.
A car that was beating you week in
week out, so you have to resort to
He drives in an illegal car and he
calls ME the cheat? Let me tell you:
two weeks before that race in Spain,
we put 20-inch rims on the rear
wheels. We get an extra half second
speed on each lap!! But the Old Man
tells me we can't use those rims, they
make the car too wide. Against the
rules. So we go back to 19-inch rims
making the car slower again. Rules are
rules. For all of us. You're just a
bad loser who can't accept that.
(tapping head, to MARLENE)
Komm, he's crazy. Sick in the head.
NIKI turns to MARLENE, speaks in German...
Den Trottel lassen wir alleine..
(Let's go. Leave this jerk
No wonder she left him...
NIKI and MARLENE go. JAMES is left staring. Not understanding.
114 INT/EXT. ZOLDER PADDOCK/ MCLAREN TRUCK - DAY 114
JAMES walks into the crowded MCLAREN pits. Sees TEDDY MAYER
and ALASTAIR CALDWELL...
Is there something I should know about
Suzy? Where is she? Wasn't she
supposed to be here today?
CALDWELL nervously indicates the Sunday newspapers...
We kept it from you. Didn't want to
tell you before the race...
JAMES looks at the newspapers, then his expression changes.
114 CONTINUED: 114
Lurid headlines about SUZY HUNT in New York with RICHARD
BURTON. Pictures all over the front pages of RICHARD BURTON,
ELIZABETH TAYLOR, SUZY and JAMES. JAMES's face falls..
115 EXT. RUNWAY - DAY 115
A jumbo jet roars down the runway and takes off...
116 OMITTED 116
117 EXT. MANHATTAN - DAY 117
The unmistakable skyline. Among the ten thousand craggy
rooftops and skyscrapers...
A grand, five-star hotel overlooking Central Park in
Manhattan's mid-town district...
118 EXT. HOTEL - MANHATTAN - DAY 118
A huge collection of paparazzi SNAPPERS and Journalist HACKS
is camped outside the hotel.
Immediately a surge of activity, "Here he is"...
A burst of flashlights and a volley of questions from the
JOURNALISTS as JAMES - gets out of the taxi and runs the
gauntlet of humiliation...
...into the hotel..
119 OMITTED 119
120 OMITTED 120
121 INT. HOTEL SUITE - DAY 121
A large hotel suite. There are flowers everywhere. Newspapers
are all over the table.
JAMES sits opposite SUZY. He sees an expensive gift; recently
opened. A diamond necklace..
That from him?
SUZY nods. Even the uninitiated eye can tell: it's worth a
121 CONTINUED: 121
Why have you come here, James?
To get you back.
You don't want me back...you never
wanted to be married in the first
place. You did it because you hoped it
might change you...settle you down...
help with the racing. Not because you
loved me. And who knows, if it had
been just the drinking, or the dope,
or the infidelity, or the moods...it
might even have worked...but when it's
all of them?
I know. I'm terrible.
No, you're not terrible. You're
just...who you are...at this point in
your life. And God help anyone that
Will he be able to give you more? He
has quite the bad boy reputation
What's important is how it feels to
me. And it feels like he adores me.
A flicker behind JAMES's eyes. Failure.
He's aware of the delicacy of the
situation, and how it looks. Having
raided your larder. Plundered your
safe. Smash and grab, and so forth. So
he's assured me he'll take care of the
financial side. And will be very
JAMES manages a brave smile.
Fine. I'll give him a call.
121 CONTINUED: (2) 121
No. His lawyers will contact you.
JAMES notices the vast unmade bed. Where, until recently, two
people had slept.
121AEXT. HOTEL - MANHATTAN - DAY 121A
JAMES emerges from the hotel - into the storm of paparazzi
again. He manages a brave smile...
It's all very amicable. My wife has
found herself a new backer...I mean
lover...which makes her happy..
Mr. Burton has found a way of feeling
young again...let's hope his pockets
are deep...they'll need to be...
And I've found a way to be single
again without it costing me a penny,
which has to go down as the biggest
win of my career.
Laughter from the JOURNALISTS who are hungrily writing down
the copy. But JAMES's hollow smile fools no one...
122 INT. JUMBO JET - FIRST CLASS - DAY 122
JAMES sits alone in the first class section. A loser on the
track, and a loser in love, too. Being played out in the full
glare of publicity. On the front pages. Being read by everyone
on the plane.
A STEWARDESS looks over, catches his eye. Smiles.
123 INT. JUMBO JET - WC - DAY 123
JAMES and the STEWARDESS fucking. Hard.
Nothing to do with pleasure. An analgesic - a way of blocking
out the pain. JAMES catches his own reflection in the mirror.
Teeth clenched. Eyes burning with anger and self-loathing...
OVER THIS: we fade in the ROAR of car engines...
123AINT. FRENCH GP 1976 - PAUL RICARD - 4TH JULY 1976 123A
JAMES's teeth still clenched. Eyes still burning with anger.
Driving flat out. At the limit.
Suzy's words still ringing in his ears.
Make that beyond the limit. At the point of no return. The car
shaking. Weaving recklessly through other cars...
Where death has become a real option.
Because he doesn't care anymore. Because it's all he deserves
And in that moment, in reaching his lowest point, JAMES has
unwittingly stumbled on the one thing that gives him an
advantage over everyone else...
The fact that he doesn't care. The fact that death has become
an option. The fact that there is no risk he is not prepared
So every corner is tighter, every braking point later, every
gap is an opening, no matter how tiny...
124 EXT. FRENCH GRAND PRIX 1976 - PAUL RICARD - DAY 124
The chequered flag waves as JAMES's car roars across the
JAMES screams with released rage....
CAPTION: "RACE 7. HUNT WINS. LAUDA's ENGINE BLOWS UP"
125 INT. MCLAREN PITS - PAUL RICARD - DAY 125
Afterwards: TEDDY MAYER, ALASTAIR CALDWELL and JOHN HOGAN
celebrate in delight...cheering...
126 OMITTED 126
126AEXT. BRITISH GRAND PRIX - 18TH JULY 1976- DAY 126A
NIKI's car is pursued by JAMES's. They disappear behind a
copse of trees. Out of sight.
When they re-emerge, JAMES is ahead of NIKI, having overtaken
him - to the delight of the partisan crowd.
The chequered flag waves again as JAMES's car roars across the
CAPTION: "RACE 8. HUNT WINS. LAUDA 2nd."
JAMES screams in catharsis and triumph. Teeth clenched. Eyes
wide and staring with concentration.
We notice SCREAMING GIRL FANS cheering him now.
127 OMITTED 127
128 EXT. FIA HEADQUARTERS - DAY 128
A blazer-wearing FIA OFFICIAL addresses a room full of sports
and motoring JOURNALISTS, TV CREWS, etc...
Following an inquiry into the
disqualification of driver James Hunt
from the Spanish Grand Prix, it has
been decided to overturn this
disqualification...and to restore his
victory, and reinstate his points..
129 INT. MCLAREN HQ - BRANDS HATCH -DAY 129
JAMES, TEDDY MAYER, ALASTAIR CALDWELL, and all the MECHANICS
are watching on TV...
Huge celebrations. Cheering and whooping. SCREAMING GIRLS.
130 OMITTED 130
131 EXT. BRAND'S HATCH - PRESS TENT - DAY 131
A crowded PRESS room. In opposite corners of the room, JAMES
and NIKI are giving interviews to different PRESS and TV
journalists. Stirling Moss is talking to JAMES...
...James, a few weeks ago, you were
out of the running for this season
completely, now you're right back in
it. What's changed...?
Screaming GIRLS in the background, shouting "James, we love
you." JAMES stares across the room at NIKI...
A combination of factors, not all of
which I'm prepared to discuss here.
Justice being done re: the
disqualification in Spain helps, and
having my old car back of course...
In the other corner: NIKI is doing his interviews in German,
(we see sub-titles)...
131 CONTINUED: 131
Mathematically in theory it's now
possible for Hunt to catch you. Are
Not at all. For him to catch me, he'd
have to win all the remaining races,
and I'd have to lose them. And pigs
would have to fly.
Laughter among the confident GERMANS.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a
private family matter to attend to.
NIKI takes MARLENE's hand, and leads her away.
132 EXT. VIENNESE REGISTRY OFFICE - DAY 132
To establish: the Viennese skyline.
133 INT. REGISTRY OFFICE - DAY 133
NIKI and MARLENE get married. In stark contrast to JAMES's
wedding...it's a small, intimate affair. Modest. Not showy.
Away from the cameras. Just them. And a witness from the pub.
134 EXT. AIRFIELD - DAY 134
A small aeroplane takes off...
135 INT. AEROPLANE - DAY 135
NIKI and an INSTRUCTOR are in the plane. In the cockpit. With
MARLENE, who watches...
NIKI is learning to fly.
MARLENE watches as NIKI soaks up the instruction, asking
questions, happy. It's another side to him, completely.
136 EXT. IBIZA - NIGHT 136
NIKI and MARLENE in a pool. In Ibiza. Playing. Laughing.
Then NIKI's expression changes. His smile fades.
137 INT. BEDROOM - HOUSE - IBIZA - NIGHT 137
MARLENE is fast asleep. She wakes, to discover the bed is
empty beside her..
138 INT. HOUSE - IBIZA - NIGHT 138
MARLENE walks through the house, looking for NIKI. Then finds
him on a balcony...alone..
Come to bed.
MARLENE notices his mood. It's different.
What's the matter?
It's the enemy, you know. Happiness.
NIKI looks up at MARLENE...
It weakens you. Puts doubt in your
mind. Because all of a sudden you have
something to lose..
MARLENE stares at him.
When you call happiness an enemy, then
it's too late.
Then you have lost already.
MARLENE turns, and goes..
NIKI is left alone. We can tell from his expression, he is
struggling with something for the first time. Fear.
139 EXT. NURBURGRING - DAY 139
The notoriously difficult and treacherous German race track.
Testing is underway. A CAR (from one of the other teams)
skids, and crashes violently.
139AEXT. NURBURGRING - CRASH SITE - DAY 139A
AMBULANCES arrive. The Driver is badly hurt. Screaming in
pain. His leg is crushed. Bone is sticking out. A brutal
compound fracture. He is taken away.
139BINT/EXT. NURBURGRING PITLANE - DAY 139B
In the pits, everyone is shaken. JAMES, REGAZZONI, and other
DRIVERS nervously talk among themselves as the Ambulance races
NIKI's face: visibly pale. More frightened than ever.
140 EXT. NURBURGRING - DAY 140
Race-day. Huge crowds arrive at the Nurburgring. And rain.
Heavy rain falling.
Television commentary informs us about the Nurburgring's
terrible reputation as a `graveyard' track.
141 EXT. NURBURGRING - DAY 141
JAMES arrives at the race track, to find ALASTAIR CALDWELL
waiting for him, a concerned look on his face...
We've just been told, a driver's
meeting has been called.
JAMES's face. Instantly suspicious.
142 INT. MEETING ROOM - NURBURGRING RACE TRACK - DAY 142
About sixty people, (26 DRIVERS and all the different team
REPRESENTATIVES), are assembled in the room, where a blazered
FIA OFFICIAL and a member of the DRIVERS SAFETY COMMITTEE are
sitting behind a table...
A buzz of anticipation and curiosity. What's going on? What is
all this about? NIKI gets to his feet, raises his hands
calling for silence...
142 CONTINUED: 142
Thank you. I called this meeting
because as all drivers know the
Nurburgring is a race track from the
Stone Ages. The most stupid, barbaric,
outdated, dangerous, track in the
world. You've all seen the rain which
has been falling this morning. Those
of you with experience know the Ring
needs perfect conditions to be even
remotely acceptable in terms of risk.
As you can see today is anything BUT
perfect, so I called this meeting to
take a vote to cancel the race.
A ripple of astonished reactions among the drivers..
There would be no change to the
situation as far as points is
concerned. The race would simply be
TEDDY MAYER looks over at FERRARI representatives....
This is bullshit...
Another DRIVER (GUY EDWARDS) gets to his feet...
If the race is cancelled, none of us
get our race fees...
It's true. You leave without your fee,
but you might leave with your LIFE.
Another voice pierces the controversy...
It also means you would effectively
win the championship.
It's JAMES HUNT, who is standing up...
So I can see why this suits you just
Why? There would be no points for me
142 CONTINUED: (2) 142
But there would be one race less where
I, or anyone else, could catch you.
Uproar in the room...
James is right! This is just tactics!
Ferrari's dirty tricks! We've seen it
Maybe it's just that he's frightened?
Laughter among the DRIVERS...
Which asshole said this?
Silence. No hand goes up. No one has the courage to own up.
Yes, I am frightened. Always a little
bit when I race. I accept every time I
get in my car there is 20% chance that
I could die. But not one per cent
more. And today, with the rain the
risk IS more. How dare you accuse me
of lack of courage? Let me remind you.
I have the track record here. I am the
only person in history to do the Ring
in under 7 minutes. So actually it's
to my ADVANTAGE to race here today.
Because I'm quicker than all of you.
A stunned silence. One voice pierces the room...
Fine. Then let's race!
It's JAMES who stares at NIKI: a ripple of excitement and
enthusiasm among the other drivers...
There's a hundred thousand fans out
there who would never forgive us if we
And some of us need our race fees!!
142 CONTINUED: (3) 142
All those in favour of cancelling the
NIKI puts his hand up. One or two other racers, too...
All those in favour of racing?
JAMES puts his hand up. Clearly the more popular, charismatic
figure among the DRIVERS, everyone else follows.
Gentlemen, start your engines!!
A clear victory for JAMES. He has swung the room.
Everyone leaves the room. JAMES and TEDDY MAYER give one
another a discreet hi-five...
But we rack focus through the crowd to see NIKI staring at
JAMES accusingly...holding his gaze.
143 EXT. STARTING GRID - DAY 143
"RRRROAAAR", an explosion of noise, as we widen and find
ourselves on the starting grid of the German Grand Prix.
An OFFICIAL walks through the cars holding aloft a sign, "One
Deafening, angry thunder, as cars rev their engines.
143AAN EYE FLICKERS - WIDE OPEN - STARING INTENTLY 143A
A pupil dilates and contracts in the light. The eye stares.
Blinks. Thinks. Making evaluations..
144 EXT. CLOUDY SKY - GERMANY - DAY 144
This time the eye belongs to JAMES. He stares up at the
His eyelids flicker. Thinking. Agonizing. Wrestling with an
all important decision...
Is it going to carry on raining? Or become dry?
ALASTAIR CALDWELL comes up to JAMES, and shouts above the
noise - no time to plug his headset in...
144 CONTINUED: 144
Jochen's going on slicks. You want to
JAMES looks in his wing-mirror back to his colleague, JOCHEN
MASS's car, number 12, several rows behind him.
White helmet. A team of Mclaren MECHANICS hastily changing the
tyres to bald, dry tyres - ('slicks'). Then JAMES looks over
at the car beside him...
Has Niki changed?
No. He's going on wets.
NIKI's car: surrounded by Italian Ferrari MECHANICS.
Then we go on wets, too.
JAMES pulls down his visor...as he and NIKI's eyes meet for a
The STARTER waves the flag. They're off!
JAMES's foot hits the floor - his engine screams at almost
9,000 rpms, drowning out the roar of the 180,000 crowd. The
car is catapaulted forward, the wheel-spin leaving livid black
scars on the asphalt..
JAMES and NIKI both make good starts, and are neck and neck,
but within seconds there's a McLaren right behind them,
JAMES realizes it's his team-mate, JOCHEN MASS in a white
helmet. Number 12. On his slick tyres.
MASS was right to gamble on the track drying out. JAMES curses
under his breath...
JAMES screwed up. Made the wrong decision. He urgently needs
to change tyres. With barely one lap completed...
He swerves angrily into the pits..
145 INT. PITS - DAY 145
Commentary from all the world's TV stations explaining the
crazy, panicked situation as JAMES comes into the pits to
change to dry tyres.
The McLaren team frantically changes the tyres. Four men with
air guns, two men with rapid-duty jacks.
ALASTAIR CALDWELL appears, talks to JAMES..
See? I told you to go on slicks!! You
didn't take my advice...
Shut up! Where's Niki?
Behind you! He made the same mistake!
JAMES looks in his mirror to see NIKI's red helmet behind him
in the pits, then...
"Thump", new (slick) tyres hit the tarmac. JAMES gets the
Go! Go!! Go!!
JAMES's foot hits the floor. He roars out, with new tyres,
leaving NIKI behind him in the pits...
146 EXT. NUBURGRING - DAY 146
Archive commentary: from the world's TV stations informs us
that JAMES roars up into 3rd position..
147 INT. JAMES'S CAR - DAY 147
JAMES gives it everything he's got. Tearing through the gears,
breaking as late as he can, engine screaming.
The world flies past in a blur. The steering wheel shakes. The
car cannot be driven any harder. No thought for safety. No
thought of failure..
Failure is unimaginable. Unconscionable.
He turns into the final straight, then stops when he sees
147 CONTINUED: 147
Flags. Red flags. RACE MARSHALLS. Something has clearly
happened. An accident..
The race is being stopped. JAMES brakes, slowing down. He
pulls level with a uniformed MARSHALL..
Accident. Bad one.
We don't know yet.
148 INT. NIKI'S CAR - SAME TIME 148
NIKI's POV: a continuation of the opening scene. Burning smoke
fills NIKI's helmet, burning his lungs. He cries out in agony.
We can just make out the barely recognizable figures of the
other DRIVERS rushing towards him, as their hands get burnt in
the flames as they try unsuccessfully to undo his seatbelt...
We notice it is the same DRIVERS that were critical of NIKI in
the driver's meeting. HARALD ERTL, BRETT LUNGER, ARTURO
MERZARIO, GUY EDWARDS...
Fire extinguishers blast at the car. Covering NIKI's helmet.
Filling his lungs with chemicals, along with the smoke and
fumes, blurring his vision, as he screams horribly..
The sound of panicked TV COMMENTARY in different languages.
Screaming voices. Panicked reactions.
Then sound fades. As NIKI blacks out - losing consciousness.
FADE TO BLACK:
OVER THIS: the hypnotic sound of helicopter blades...
August 1st, 1976, I discovered comas
exist for a reason.
149 EXT. MANNHEIM UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL - DAY 149
NIKI's POV: the door to a helicopter opens, as it arrives at
Mannheim University Hospital...
The sound of shouting voices. Hospital STAFF pull reach
towards NIKI, pull his stretcher out.
NIKI's internal voice groans: cries out at the pain.
Some things are better not remembered.
150 INT. MANNHEIM UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL - DAY 150
"Crash", doors burst open and NIKI is rushed into emergency.
Neon ceiling lights pass overhead...
The sound of difficult breathing.
His stretcher is surrounded by DOCTORS, talking urgently,
making quick assessments..
NIKI's POV: fading in and out of consciousness.
Bursts of concerned, urgent, overlapping dialogue among the
German DOCTORS which NIKI can barely make out..
151 INT. INTENSIVE CARE UNIT - MANNHEIM HOSPITAL - DAY 151
Two narrow, barely open slits of light. NIKI's swollen eye-
lids. NIKI's POV: barely making out MARLENE standing beside
the senior burns specialist DOCTOR. NIKI hears voices...
It's not the burns to his face that
are the danger. It's the burns to his
lungs. His blood oxygen level is
Which is not enough to maintain
NIKI slips out of consciousness again. MARLENE is distraught,
152 OMITTED 152
153 OMITTED 153
154 TELEVISION NEWS - FULL-FRAME 154
TV news: giving the latest information on NIKI's condition.
155 INT. JAMES'S APARTMENT - LONDON - NIGHT 155
JAMES sits watching the news on TV in his apartment, while
feeding his budgerigars, (the collection has grown)..
He feels terrible. He goes to his desk, pulls out paper and
JAMES tries to find the right words, tries to write, tries to
put his feelings on paper, but words in general, and letters
in particular have never been his thing...
JAMES scrunches up the pieces of paper, throws it away. The
budgerigars, sensing his distress, flutter and peep..
156 INT. INTENSIVE CARE UNIT - DAY 156
NIKI's P.O.V: feels someone touching his forehead and his
hands with oil...and the sound of a WOMAN weeping...
...durch diese heilige Salbung helfe
dir der Herr in seinem reichen
Erbarmen, er stehe dir bei mit der
Kraft des Heiligen Geistes...
NIKI's eyes barely crack open, barely manage to focus to see
an ELDERLY PRIEST is giving him the last rites in German..
The sound of MARLENE crying somewhere in the room.
Der Herr der dich von Sunden befreit,
rette dich in seiner Gnade richte er
NIKI strains to move. A sense of excruciating pain.
He fights to open his eyes, give an indication...ANY
indication of the fact that he is hearing this, and is alive
and able to fight for life...
But to no avail. The PRIEST continues giving last rites.
MARLENE continues to cry. The PRIEST touches NIKI's
I'm here! Can't you tell? I'm here!
156 CONTINUED: 156
NIKI screams inside. Wanting to be heard. Wanting to give them
a sign. He's OK. He's still there. But it's no use.
NIKI blacks out again. The pain is too great.
FADE TO BLACK:
157 INT. CORRIDOR - HOSPITAL - DAY 157
Sunrise: MARLENE has been sitting in the hospital all night
supported by members of FAMILY and several FRIENDS.
Niki's MOTHER and FATHER. CLAY REGAZZONI.
Presently: the door to the intensive care unit opens and a
DOCTOR comes out, beckoning her...
Frau Lauda? Bitte kommen Sie! He's
awake! And just spoke!
MARLENE scrambles to her feet...
What did he say?
"Tell the Priest to fuck off! I'm
MARLENE covers her mouth, laughs nervously, already in tears.
She and the DOCTOR rush into the intensive care unit.
158 EXT. INTENSIVE CARE UNIT - DAY 158
Shooting through the window we see MARLENE approach NIKI's
bed. She sees NIKI..
And gasps. Trying to control her expression. Not give away to
him how horrified she is.
NIKI's face: is grotesque. His head has swollen to double it's
size. The skin has burned off on his head, his eyes.
MARLENE bravely composes herself. Then, without displaying the
shock she feels - she goes over and kisses him.
159 OMITTED 159
160 INT. NIKI'S HOSPITAL ROOM/TELEVISION COVERAGE FULL FRAME -DAY 160
The starter's flag drops. On television we see the Austrian
Grand Prix start.
NIKI watches the race on television, while beginning his rehab
in bed, in pain as bandages are changed..
ON TV: JAMES narrowly misses out on a podium, but still gains
on NIKI in his points total...
CAPTION: "RACE 11. HUNT FINISHES 4th"
161 INT. HOSPITAL - DAY - (A WEEK LATER) 161
NIKI continues his rehab in the hospital, now out of bed...
ON TV: the starter's flag drops. Another Grand Prix starts.
This time at Zandvoort, in the Netherlands..
NIKI watches the race on television as DOCTORS put a vacuuum
pump into his lungs. It's AGONY. JAMES leads, driving the
YOUNG GERMAN DOCTOR
We need to vacuum the lungs. Without
this, they can't heal. But it will
An unimaginably painful pump is forced down his burned lungs,
to try to hoover out the impurities..
COMMENTATORS ON TV: talk about how HUNT is catching up with
LAUDA on points. It spurs NIKI on, through gritted teeth.
The chequered flag. JAMES crosses the line in first position.
CAPTION: "RACE 12. HUNT WINS."
The DOCTORS tell NIKI he's had enough vacuum treatment. He's
had more than enough pain. But NIKI waves them aside...
The DOCTOR nods. The vacuum is turned on again.
NIKI screams in agony. Eyes bulging. MARLENE and NIKI's family
cannot bear to watch...
161 CONTINUED: 161
He watches as ON TV: JAMES is on the victory podium spraying
162 INT. HOSPITAL - DAY 162
NIKI continues screaming in pain, watching the Canadian GP on
CAPTION: "RACE 13 CANADIAN GRAND PRIX. HUNT WINS AGAIN"
For the first time, JAMES has taken the lead in points. NIKI
stares at the TV: his expression changes.
163 OMITTED 163
164 INT. HOSPITAL - DAY 164
NIKI screams again. MARLENE, NIKI's family and the DOCTORS are
deeply distressed, cannot bring themselves to watch, as...
We WIDEN to reveal what NIKI is doing. What has caused these
unbearable, bloodcurdling screams of agony..
I know what you're all thinking...
Now we see. With great difficulty NIKI has put his racing
helmet on for the first time. Pressing into his open burn
But if you love me - all of you - you
won't say a word.
He is almost unconscious with pain. His legs are weak. But he
has done it...
165 EXT. ITALIAN GRAND PRIX - MONZA - 12TH SEPT 1976 -DAY 165
The Italian Grand Prix. TELEVISION COMMENTARY sets the scene.
JAMES and the MCLAREN TEAM arrive in the pits to see a vast
commotion going on elsewhere...
What's going on?
Jesus. It's Niki.
165 CONTINUED: 165
What about him?
He's here! He's racing!
What?? They said he was half-dead.
JAMES stares. Shaken.
166 EXT. MONZA PITLANE/ FERRARI PITS - DAY 166
JAMES pushes through the pitlanes, until he reaches the
crowded FERRARI pits. He sees a racer in the background. The
name LAUDA on his overalls...
NIKI turns round. JAMES sets eyes on him for the first time.
JAMES reels, visibly horrified by his appearance. His bandages
are blood stained. He has no hair. Looks grotesque..
NIKI sees the horror in JAMES's face. Sees the shock. The
horror. And recognizes in that moment, this is how it's going
to be - this is how people will respond to him - forever.
Wow. It's that bad, huh?
JAMES opens his mouth. Tries to say something.
In the hospital I told them to tell me
straight, no bullshit - how bad it
would be. My appearance. They said
with time it'd be fine. But it won't.
I can tell, seeing your reaction. I am
going to spend the rest of my life
with a face that frightens people.
NIKI stares at JAMES, at his rival's beauty, his blonde,
tanned perfection. His matinee idol, movie star looks...
That's a tough one to get used to.
I wrote you a letter at the time. To
166 CONTINUED: 166
The driver's meeting in Germany?
Before the race? I swayed the room.
Yes. You did.
That race should never have gone
So in some ways...I feel responsible
for what happened. I'm sorry.
Trust me, watching you win those
points and all those races while I was
in hospital fighting for my life...you
were equally responsible for getting
Ouch. That could have been meant generously. But in this case
it wasn't. It was a cold slap in the face.
NIKI turns and goes.
167 INT. MONZA GRAND PRIX - PRESS CONFERENCE - DAY 167
A packed press conference. The world's media. NIKI's accident
and recovery (as a story) has reached way beyond F1 race fans.
This is front page news around the globe..
NIKI walks out onto the podium - all eyes staring at him - the
sense of a ghoulish, voyeuristic freak show....
NIKI sits on the podium, in front of microphones, flanked on
both sides by FERRARI drivers and top brass. But no one wants
to talk to them. Everyone's here to talk to NIKI..
How are you feeling, Niki?
Can you confirm for us exactly which
procedures you have had? And the
expectations for your recovery?
167 CONTINUED: 167
Sure. I had a skin graft operation
where they put half my right thigh in
my face. 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 in my
eyes again - which is good for a
Laughter. At the back of the hall, JAMES HUNT creeps in,
(unseen by anyone, disguised in a hat), to listen.
When they heard about your condition,
Ferrari immediately hired another
driver, Carlos Reutemann.
Ja. Before even my first operation.
Is he your replacement now?
No. Just another team-mate. Keen to
make an impression. So let's see where
Mr. Reutemann finishes today.
James Hunt and McLaren have caught up
a lot while you were away.
Is there a question now? Or are you
just trying to piss me off?
You think you can still win?
Of course. I have the better car. I'm
the better driver. But he's a clever
guy and has used the time well while I
was lying half-dead in hospital to win
167 CONTINUED: (2) 167
What did your wife say when she saw
She said, "Sweetie, you don't need a
face to drive. Only a right foot."
I'm being serious. Do you really think
your marriage can survive? With the
way you look now?
Silence. NIKI squints into the lights..
And I'm being serious, too. Which
asshole said this? Jesus..
No one moves. NIKI, disgusted, rips off his microphone..
Fuck you. Press conference over.
NIKI walks out. The Press Conference breaks up...
JAMES sees the REPORTER who asked the question, laughing with
his friends. JAMES watches as the REPORTER leaves...
168 INT. CORRIDOR OUTSIDE PRESS CONFERENCE - SAME TIME 168
JAMES goes after the REPORTER, and calls him..
The REPORTER turns, recognizes JAMES..
I've got something for you on that
The BRITISH JOURNALIST smiles, "Great, thanks James!" Pulls
out a tape recorder. JAMES takes him to one side, then...
"WHACK, WHACK, WHACK" - JAMES punches his lights out, then
takes the tape recorder, stuffs it into the JOURNALISTS mouth.
Now go home to your wife and ask her
how YOU look!!
168 CONTINUED: 168
"CRASH" a final, sickening blow splits the REPORTER's nose..
169 EXT. STARTING GRID - MONZA - DAY 169
JAMES walks out to his car. TV CREWS. Banks of PHOTOGRAPHERS.
Commentators talk in different languages.
Everyone talking about NIKI's comeback.
NIKI is in his car. The MECHANICS are talking to him in
But NIKI hears nothing. He looks at the steering wheel, the
shell of the car, the gear stick. And then we see..
His hands are shaking violently. He's utterly terrified.
The light turns green. They're off!
Other cars (including JAMES's), roar forward. But NIKI is
170 EXT. TRACK - DAY 170
NIKI's mind is a mess - terrified - he starts slowly...finding
COMMENTATORS point out it's madness. It was clearly too soon.
Ferrari were right to hire a replacement. NIKI is a wreck..
NIKI suffers terrible flashbacks from his accident...
NIKI shakes himself out...gradually building up speed -
ignoring the cars overtaking him all around him...
NIKI begins to accelerate. Gently at first. Then a bit more.
Trusting himself. Gaining confidence..
Blocking out further flashbacks...
170AINT. HOSPITAL - DAY 170A
Watching NIKI from the hospital where he had his treatment is
the DOCTOR who treated him...
170BEXT. TRACK - DAY 170B
COMMENTATORS look up. Notice NIKI's slow increase in speed.
What's this? Maybe there's life in him yet...
NIKI changes gears smoothly. He begins to overtake. The old
feelings come back..
170CEXT. PADDOCK/PITS - SAME TIME 170C
MARLENE watches from the pits. Can hardly bring herself to
170DEXT. TRACK - DAY 170D
COMMENTATORS begin to get excited. LAUDA has started to
overtake the back-markers...
An incredible sequence. As NIKI gains more confidence, more
speed, and begins to work his way through the field..
COMMENTATORS now buzzing with excitement. This is incredible,
as NIKI overtakes first CARLOS REUTEMANN, the driver hired to
replace him, then others, working his way through the field...
170EINT. JAMES'S CAR - SAME TIME 170E
JAMES sees NIKI coming up behind him. Cannot believe his eyes.
JAMES move to block NIKI's path...
NIKI attacks fearlessly. Despite terrible pain. NIKI moves to
Utterly intimidated by NIKI's bravery, JAMES panics, and loses
control of the car. He spins out..
COMMENTATORS cannot believe their eyes. HUNT's blown it!
LAUDA's overtaken him!
It's a miracle. It defies belief. As NIKI crosses the line....
CAPTION: "RACE 15. NIKI 4th. JAMES RETIRED."
171 OMITTED 171
172 EXT. MONZA - DAY 172
The Italian crowds are ecstatic. Delirious. NIKI is a national
hero. Lazarus back from the dead. Superhuman.
172 CONTINUED: 172
TV commentary in different languages elaborates on what an
extraordinary, superhuman achievement they have just seen...
CAPTION: "LAUDA 68 POINTS. HUNT 65 POINTS."
What a race! What a man! What a
season! Now it all boils down to the
final race in Japan!
Hunt walks past, staring at a triumphant Niki.
172AINT. HOSPITAL - SAME TIME 172A
The DOCTOR in the hospital shakes his head, cannot believe
what he has just witnessed...
172BEXT. PITS - SAME TIME 172B
The Ferrari Mechanics that had initially so disliked NIKI, are
overwhelmed by what he has achieved...
172CEXT. TRACK - DAY 172C
A reluctant, modest NIKI carried on shoulders, surrounded by
LUCA DI MONTEZEMOLO, MARLENE and the PRESS...
173 EXT. FUJI SPEEDWAY - JAPAN - DAY 173
Mount Fuji towers imperiously, dramatically above the Japanese
race track, dominating the skyline on a clear day..
Television cameras and press photographers assemble at the
race track for the biggest sporting event of the year...
174 INT. JAMES'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT 174
JAMES sits alone in his hotel suite. Speaking to an old,
trusted friend at the other end...
JAMES (ON PHONE)
The man was in a coma. His doctors
pronounced him dead!! Then he comes
back and does THAT???
174AINT. BUBBLES HORSELY HOME - MORNING 174A
BUBBLES HORSLEY back at home in England. At a breakfast
BUBBLES (ON PHONE)
What did you expect? That Niki would
give you the championship lying down?
Of course not. He's a fighter. He's
going to come at you with everything
he's got. But you can do this. As a
driver, you're his equal - better,
maybe. And God knows you're quick and
brave enough. You just..
JAMES (ON PHONE)
BUBBLES (ON PHONE)
Need to find the respect for yourself
to close out when it really matters.
You don't much like yourself, James -
that's the problem, therefore don't
believe you deserve it.
174BINT. JAMES'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT 174B
A knock at JAMES's hotel room door..
I've got to go.
JAMES hangs up, and goes to the door. He snaps it open to
Two gorgeous-looking BOAC Stewardesses standing outside. Smart
blue blazers, short skirts, white gloves, blue caps..
Hi. We've come for the party?
The party we were told was going on in
Sure enough: on JAMES's door, the number 2109.
Who sent you here?
A man. On the phone. He didn't give
This man. Did he speak with an accent?
Yes. German accent.
JAMES can't believe it. NIKI.
I'm afraid it was a joke..
(liking the look of JAMES)
Sorry, ladies. Any other time. Not
JAMES closes the door. Goes back into his hotel room. Then,
after a moment...
He snaps open the door. The STEWARDESSES are about to
disappear into the elevator...
175 EXT. TOKYO SKYLINE - DAWN 175
The following morning, day barely breaks. The skies are
ominously dark over Tokyo. Thick, black clouds.
It's raining heavily...
176 INT. NIKI'S BEDROOM - HOTEL - DAY 176
NIKI wakes up and looks out of the window. Sees the heavy rain
which is falling outside...
His expression changes.
177 INT. JAMES'S BEDROOM - HOTEL - DAY 177
JAMES wakes up. Flinches. JAMES looks around, bleary-eyed.
He's in a room that looks like a bomb has hit it.
177 CONTINUED: 177
The two STEWARDESSES are still asleep in the bed beside him.
Uniforms discarded on the floor.
Memories are now flooding back. Jesus, what was he THINKING?
JAMES leaps out of bed.
178 INT. NIKI'S ROOM - HOTEL - DAY 178
NIKI is being massaged by WILLI DUNGL in his hotel room in
preparation for the race.
NIKI continues to stare out of the window. They speak in
German. We see sub-titles..
Can't see the mountain.
The locals here believe if you can see
the mountain in the morning, it brings
NIKI's POV: the view. Nothing but mist, dark skies and rain.
179 OMITTED 179
180 EXT. JAPANESE GRAND PRIX - FUJI SPEEDWAY - 24TH OCT 1976 -DAY 180
Inside the race track: puddles everywhere. The rain continues
to fall. The circuit is covered in water...
DRIVERS and the TEAMS arrive at the race track. JAMES and
TEDDY MAYER and ALASTAIR CALDWELL among them...
SPECTATORS are huddled under umbrellas. TV CREWS struggle to
keep expensive equipment dry...
An American VOICE comes over the tannoy...
All drivers to the control tower,
JAMES looks at CALDWELL...
181 INT. CONTROL TOWER - MEETING ROOM - DAY 181
A driver's meeting has been called. All the DRIVERS are in a
small room, arguing and remonstrating with FIA OFFICIALS and
blazer-wearing POWERS THAT BE...
A Japanese official, (AKIYAMA), is trying to keep the peace...
One at a time! Gentlemen, please!
Local JAPANESE DRIVERS are complaining in Japanese, (we see
You can't send us out in that! It's a
You have to postpone the race!
181AINT. CONTROL TOWER - CORRIDOR OUTSIDE - SAME TIME 181A
JAMES, MAYER and CALDWELL arrive in a corridor outside the
Niki's talking to them about
cancelling the race.
JAMES's POV: he can see NIKI, his wounds horribly visible,
remonstrating with the JAPANESE OFFICIAL about the dangerous
JAMES turns to TEDDY and ALASTAIR...
I don't want any part of this. I'm not
going to be responsible for turning
the room again.
But you have no option. You HAVE to
race, James. It's your only shot. If
you don't, Niki wins..
I'm not voting against Niki
again....or forcing fellow drivers to
risk their lives. Sorry. World
Championship or not...
JAMES raises his hands and walks off. CALDWELL shouts after
him, "James, wait..!" Then MAYER reassures CALDWELL...
Don't worry, this race is going ahead.
The TV rights have been sold all
around the world.
MAYER can see that a vote is taking place in the room. Many of
the drivers have their hands in the air, voting...
The JAPANESE OFFICIAL is struggling to keep order in the room.
The drivers can vote all they like.
A round of applause in the room, as the DRIVERS vote to cancel
the race. But unseen by the DRIVERS..
The FIA OFFICIALS, TV NETWORK EXECUTIVES, and the blazered
POWERS THAT BE are in dark, conspiratorial discussion..
...making the decision that the race goes ahead.
182 ARCHIVE TELEVISION FOOTAGE 182
NEWSCASTERS from all over the world, in several different
languages, announce that a decision has been made..
The JAPANESE Grand Prix is definitely going ahead. The drivers
have been called to the starting grid...
183 OMITTED 183
184 INT. PITS - VARIOUS - DAY 184
In the pits alongside JAMES...
A series of shots of the other DRIVERS...being sent out like
lambs to the slaughter...
Visibly terrified, mouthing prayers, smoking last cigarettes,
meditating, crossing themselves, hands shaking..
Among them the JAPANESE DRIVERS. All laughter gone now.
Realizing what they've got into. Risking their lives.
Finally we come to rest on NIKI. Strangely calm.
NIKI puts on his balaclava over his still-raw wounds, wincing
with pain as he puts on his helmet..
185 EXT. JAPANESE GP - STARTING GRID - DAY 185
JAMES is piggy-backed to his car by MECHANICS so his feet
don't get soaked in the water pooling deep on the track.
186 EXT. JAPANESE GP - STARTING GRID - DAY 186
JAMES lowers himself into a car with puddles on the seat. He
straps himself in.
ALISTAIR CALDWELL approaches with a power-drill. Leans towards
JAMES, with the screaming drill...
What are you doing???
`ZZZZ", "ZZZZ", "ZZZZ", CALDWELL drill holes in JAMES's visor.
To let the condensation out.
But it will also let the water in.
Not if you're leading.
CALDWELL stares at JAMES...
Trust me. This race is all about the
start. Whoever's in front will see
everything. Whoever's second...
CALDWELL gestures, "Nothing"..
They shake hands. JAMES starts the engine with a roar.
187 EXT. STARTING GRID - DAY 187
NIKI's engine replies with a loud roar. He looks over at
JAMES. JAMES turns to face NIKI..
ALL SOUND GOES SILENT...
...as JAMES and NIKI stare at one another. All around them,
the world slows down. Comes to a standstill.
187 CONTINUED: 187
THEIR EYES MEET...
A connection between them. Unspoken realization of where they
have both got to. What this moment means. For them both..
It's what they have been waiting for. Working towards. All
NIKI raises his hand. In a gesture only JAMES sees. JAMES
raises his in return. A private salute.
Chivalric. From a bygone era. And in that moment, enemies
become brothers. Two men. Risking their lives.
THE TEN SECOND FLAG IS RAISED..
The moment's truce is broken. They return to the task at hand.
THE FLAG DROPS. THEY'RE OFF.
188 EXT. RACE - JAPANESE GRAND PRIX - DAY 188
HUNT's foot hits the floor. NIKI's foot hits the floor...
JAMES gets the better start. His car aquaplanes like crazy,
skating over the water, totally out of control...
189 EXT. FUJI PIT WALL - DAY 189
CALDWELL and MAYER watch from the pit wall...
Hold onto it, James..!
190 EXT. RACE - JAPANESE GRAND PRIX - DAY 190
Miraculously JAMES steadies the car...
The spray from his wheels creates a curtain of mist. The other
cars are wrapped inside it...
But JAMES has a clear view ahead. He slams his foot down..
It's the perfect start for Hunt!
191 INT. NIKI'S CAR - SAME TIME 191
NIKI can see nothing. Surrounded by spray, water, noise.
191 CONTINUED: 191
Other cars are spinning all around him. It's chaos. NIKI
bravely accelerates into blindness...
But Lauda's car is right on his tail!
Barely visible in the spray..!
192 EXT. RACE - JAPANESE GRAND PRIX - DAY 192
JAMES goes to a corner, then his car twitches, aquaplanes
again...badly...almost losing it completely...
Hunt turns too tightly! He almost lost
his car right there...!
193 INT. EASTON NESTON - DAY 193
BUBBLES HORSLEY, ALEXANDER HESKETH and a number of the
characters from the Hesketh Racing days are all watching...
194 INT. JAMES'S CAR - DAY 194
JAMES struggles to hold onto his car. He steadies it,
maintaining the lead.
194AINT. NIKI'S CAR - SAME TIME 194A
JAMES's spray makes it impossible for NIKI to see. NIKI can't
blink his eyes...it's agony.
Half-blind, NIKI tries to overtake. Gives it everything he's
got, breaking as late as he can, tearing through the gears...
For NIKI the world flies past in a near-blind blur. The
steering wheel shakes. The car cannot be driven any harder.
But the visibility is terrible. The spray tears into his
scarred eyes. He is unable to see anything but...
MARLENE's beautiful face: staring at him. Smiling tenderly.
Kissing him tenderly.
195 OMITTED 195
196 OMITTED 196
197 EXT. RACE TRACK - JAPAN - SAME TIME 197
JAMES continues to race flat out. Engine screaming. Foot to
the floor. His car aquaplanes again...almost skidding out...
198 INT. HOTEL - MANHATTAN - SAME TIME 198
SUZY HUNT is watching on television as RICHARD BURTON talks in
the background on the telephone...
(urging him on)
Come on, James...
199 EXT. PITS - RACE TRACK - JAPAN - DAY 199
A sign is held up as JAMES races. Lap 39.
But there are problems with the car. One of the tyres...
God! His front tyre! Look! It's
CALDWELL and TEDDY MAYER watch in horror from the pits and on
TV. They can see the shaking car..
Hunt's car has problems...it's
shaking...the Englishman is definitely
199AEXT. PITS - RACE TRACK - JAPAN - DAY 199A
ALASTAIR CALDWELL holds up a sign....
...with just a few laps to go, McLaren
are calling for Hunt to come into the
pits to change tyres...
JAMES's car roars past the pits, refusing to stop...
But Hunt is refusing! Simply ignoring
his team's orders...! He's made the
calculation that he can still hold
onto the lead...!
199BINT. EASTON NESTON - SAME TIME 199B
HESKETH and BUBBLES cover their eyes. Can't look...
James!! What are you doing???
I can't bear it!
199CINT. JAMES'S CAR - JAPAN GRAND PRIX - SAME TIME 199C
Suddenly, a Ferrari in JAMES's wing mirror. Unmistakably, even
in the spray, he can see the distinctive RED HELMET...
It's NIKI. JAMES's blood runs cold...
No! No! NO!!!!
JAMES tries to fend NIKI off. Swerves this way and that. But
his wounded car is now running at seventy per cent at best...
...and disaster!!! NIKI OVERTAKES HIM...
JAMES screams in agony and frustration. He's lost it! And has
no one to blame but himself! His own arrogance. And
stubbornness. NIKI's overtaken him!
THE CHEQUERED FLAG.
JAMES roars past. Has finished in third place. But that is no
consolation. NIKI has beaten him. As far as he's concerned..
JAMES has lost. Lost everything.
200 EXT. PITS - DAY 200
JAMES's car arrives in the pits. In a fury. At himself. For
refusing to listen. What a disgrace. What shame. What a fool.
But he is engulfed. JAMES gets out of his car, raging...
But TEDDY MAYER is celebrating wildly. ALASTAIR CALDWELL, too.
The world's media descends on JAMES...
Sorry?? What are you talking about??
You did it!
200 CONTINUED: 200
Rubbish!! What about Niki?? He
overtook me!! I saw it!! A Ferrari
with a red helmet..
That wasn't Niki. That was Regazzoni.
Niki withdrew. Said it was too
dangerous, refused to drive!!
You're Champion of the World, kiddo!
TEDDY MAYER takes JAMES's number `11' from the side of his
car, and tears it in two, leaving number `1'.
JAMES's face: as he realizes. Then explodes with happiness.
200AINT. EASTON NESTON - DAY 200A
HESKETH and BUBBLES cheer in celebration...
He did it! He bloody well did it!
200BINT. HOSPITAL - NIGHT 200B
A television plays in the Emergency Ward of the hospital.
NURSIE catches sight of the victory, patients cheering and
NURSIE allows herself a smile.
200CINT. HOTEL - MANHATTAN - SAME TIME 200C
BURTON is at the door in tuxedo, waiting to go. SUZY, dressed
Well done, James..
Then turns the TV off. And follows BURTON out.
200DEXT. JAPAN GRAND PRIX - DAY 200D
JAMES is embraced by CALDWELL and MAYER.
201 EXT. FUJI PADDOCK - HELICOPTER - SAME TIME 201
Across the race-track, the sound of helicopter blades turning.
JAMES looks over to see...
NIKI in the helicopter with MARLENE and a PILOT. NIKI, now the
ex-World Champion, looks over to see a triumphant JAMES
surrounded by press, McLaren colleagues, etc
Are you OK?
NIKI turns, takes MARLENE's hand as he answers.
Fine. It's just one race.
The helicopter lifts into the air, and flies off...
202 EXT. PADDOCK - SAME TIME 202
JAMES watches as the helicopter carrying NIKI flies away, then
turns to see...
...the world's press begins to descend on him, and the biggest
party of JAMES HUNT's life is about to begin..
In the background, the two JAPANESE DRIVERS are giving
interviews again. They didn't just survive, MASAHIRO HASEMI
got the fastest lap of the race, and NORITAKE TAKAHARA came
And at that moment, magically, the sun breaks through, and the
snowy peak of Mount Fuji is finally revealed.
203 A QUICKFIRE MONTAGE 203
Of newspaper headlines, television talk shows, lucrative
endorsements, TV commercials, sponsorship, public billboards.
JAMES's world championship victory has made him a rich man.
His movie star looks make him an international STAR and
marketing man's dream.
Girls, more girls, and even more girls.
203 CONTINUED: 203
JAMES, dashing in a white suit, plays trumpet on the UK's most
famous talk show...
FADE TO BLACK:
204 EXT. RUNWAY - DAY 204
We're on the runway of an airport in Northern Italy.
CAPTION: "THREE MONTHS LATER"
A stretch limousine pulls up on the tarmac.
A still-drunk JAMES HUNT and several good-looking WOMEN, rowdy
FRIENDS (and hangers-on) spill out of the limo...
They cross the tarmac towards their waiting private jet,
passing other jets, when JAMES stops.
He's seen something that has caught his eye.
JAMES sends his FRIENDS on ahead to their waiting jet, and
walks over to a small private jet, (a Learjet 35)...
I heard you were spending more and
more time in one of these...
A hunched PILOT doing final checks. The figure turns. It's
NIKI. His wounds have healed a little, but it's still a
Do you fly?
You should try it. If something goes
wrong up there, you're on the edge,
but have to stay within the rules.
Stick to regulations. Suppress the
ego. It's good discipline for the
And there I was thinking you were
about to wax lyrical about the romance
of flight. I should have known better.
What brings you here?
204 CONTINUED: 204
JAMES indicates his rowdy, cool-looking friends..
A friend's wedding. At least I think
it was a wedding. Might have been a
birthday. All a bit of a blur. How
about you? Been at Fiorano?
Already? In February? You're
I'm not sure I meant it as a
But it is one. Relentlessness is good.
Means you're a fighter. That you never
give up. Behind my back I know some of
you guys call me `The Rat.' Because I
look like one. It's meant as an
insult. But I don't mind it. Rats are
ugly, sure. And no one likes them. But
they're intelligent. With a strong
JAMES can't help smiling. That's NIKI.
So when do you start testing? Next
Are you mad? I didn't just win the
biggest thing of my life so I could
get right back to work.
Why? You need to. To prove to all the
people who will always say you only
won it because...
Because what...? Because of your
accident? Is that other people, Niki?
Or you? I won. On the all important
day when it came down to it, we raced
on equal terms in equally good cars.
204 CONTINUED: (2) 204
You bottled and I had the guts to see
It's true. You won that race. And
believe me if I had to lose that title
to anyone, I'm happy it was you. But
that doesn't change the fact you have
to win again.
Because that's what it means to be a
winner, no? It's a permanent
condition. Never stops or goes away.
It stays with you always.
That's winning? Sounds like losing to
me. Some of life needs to be for
pleasure, Niki. What's the use of
having a million cups and medals if
you never have any fun? How is that
The plane load of JAMES's friends call out..."C'mon, James!"
You're right. I could learn from you.
In hospital the toughest part of my
treatment was the vacuum. Pumping the
shit out of my lungs. It was agony.
While doing it, I was watching
television...you winning all those
races...and I was cursing you.. "That
bastard, Hunt", I would shout, "I hate
that guy." one day the doctor said,
"Mr. Lauda, may I offer one piece of
advice? Stop thinking of it as a curse
to have been given an enemy in life.
It can be a blessing, too." I said,
"Who are you, Confucius?" He said, "A
wise man gets more from his enemies
than a fool from his friends." And you
know, he's right. Look at us. We were
a pair of kids when we first met.
Hotheaded jerks in Formula 3. Headed
nowhere. Now we're both Champions of
the world. Not bad.
No, not bad.
204 CONTINUED: (3) 204
So don't let me down now. I need you
busting my balls. Get back to work.
I will, Niki. But I intend to enjoy
myself first. And so should you. You
think you can?
NIKI stares. A blank look..
See you on race day, Champ.
You will. Champ.
JAMES goes. NIKI watches him, pulled into his plane by his
laughing, cool FRIENDS. An unmistakable flicker of envy in his
Then NIKI turns, alone, and resumes his safety checks.
205 EXT. RUNWAY - AIRFIELD - DAY 205
JAMES's plane roars down the runway and takes off into the
azure blue sky...
FADE TO BLACK:
CAPTION: "JAMES RETURNED THE FOLLOWING SEASON, BUT WAS NEVER A
CHALLENGER AGAIN. HE RETIRED IN 1979. AFTER SHORT CAREERS IN
BROADCASTING AND BUDGIE BREEDING HE DIED OF A HEART ATTACK.
CAPTION: "NIKI LAUDA WENT ON TO BECOME WORLD CHAMPION IN 1977.
AND AGAIN IN 1984. HE NOW RUNS A SUCCESSFUL COMMERCIAL
AIRLINE. HE STILL CLAIMS TO HAVE NO FRIENDS."