New Delhi: It's been four decades since Niki Lauda and James Hunt's storied rivalry that lit up the world of Formula One and was the subject of the hit 2013 Hollywood flick Rush. Their sons, Mathias and Freddie will be up against one another, albeit racing for different teams in the inaugural edition of the X1 Racing League.
However, as far as Mathias is concerned, all the talk around the possibility of a "Rush 2.0" doesn't really concern him, as nothing can match the intensity of the fierce competition that their fathers shared back in their prime.
"I know Freddie since a long time, and he’s a nice guy and I get along well with him. But it’s not something that you can compare to the battle that my father had with his father because it was something completely different," said Lauda at an interaction with Firstpost in the national capital ahead of race day.
While the senior Lauda, who breathed his last on 20 May earlier this year, remains a legendary figure in the elite class of motorsport, he wasn't always comfortable with the idea about his son following his footsteps.
"My father didn’t let me race in my teenage days, so I started racing when I was 20, and had to do it behind my father’s back. I had my brother, he was my manager. He organised for me all the sponsors in Austria like Red Bull, which is still a very loyal sponsor of mine. They financed me at the beginning of my career because my father had said no," narrated Mathias, who added that his father eventually accepted his decision after initial reluctance.
However, the 38-year-old feels his late entry into the sport only made him hungrier on the race track.
"For sure, it is a disadvantage starting late, but it’s also an advantage because it makes you more hungry. Then you have to fight for yourself, find the money, find the teams and start everywhere with less experience on your side. But it also makes you learn to be quicker and be more hungry," added Mathias, who is part of the AD Racing Delhi team that also features top Indian rally driver Gaurav Gill as well as Danish racer Christina Nielsen.
The first leg of the X1 Racing League takes place on Sunday at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida before moving to the Madras Motor Sports Club in Chennai for the second leg. The uniqueness of the format did get him interested in signing up for the inaugural edition of the league, with Lauda stating that having city-based franchises could help the event grow in the coming years.
"The reason I want to be part of it is because it’s something new. I like the idea of different cities battling it out against each other because then you attract different fan groups from each city, and all the cities in India, as we know, are very big with a lot of population. If you can attract the right people to follow their team, it’s going to grow."
"I even like the mix about e-sports, that they combine e-sports with real racing. It’s something that interests me a lot," added Lauda, who also looks forward to exploring more of the country in between the race weekends.
Before Saturday, the drivers, especially the international ones, had little idea about what to expect in the upcoming event. While most of the veterans of the sport are no doubt relying on their experience and skills to get them through on Sunday as well as in the subsequent race day in Chennai, there is a feeling among many that the young rookie Indian drivers, two of whom are part of every team, could spring a surprise given their knowledge of the Buddh Circuit and the MMSC.
Lauda, for one, is aware of that line of thought, and says he looks at it not necessarily as a hindrance, but a challenge that he most certainly can overcome.
"This is all part of the format that everybody starts from zero, and nobody has a chance to test before you because that would make it unfair for the others. But if the time is quite limited, I like to see this as a challenge, that you need to jump into a new track and a new car and squeeze it out straight away," said Lauda.
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Updated Date: Nov 30, 2019 21:17:14 IST