Every time I go to Nurburgring it brings back the summer of '76. Jackie Stewart had hung up his lid three years before and although most of Britain was caught up in James Hunt fever, it was Niki Lauda for me.
I don't really know why. Something to do with schoolboys and Ferraris maybe, but I'd also watched the '74 British Grand Prix, which Lauda dominated from the pole but then had a tyre go in the closing stages. The Brands Hatch pitlane was swarming with people in blazers and Niki's Ferrari was trapped. He was eventually credited with fifth place or something. I couldn't believe it.
By '76, of course, he was the reigning champion and it had become hero worship. I hated that the Germans were calling him chicken because he dared to criticise Nurburgring. How could they do that when, a year earlier, he'd taken the Ferrari 312T round in 6:58.6, the first ever sub-seven minute Nurburgring lap? I was incensed.
Stewart had once said that every time he left home for the 'Ring he took a long look at the house and the driveway because he was aware that he might not see them again. There may be situations beyond his control...