Remembering the rebellious but gifted James Hunt

It was on this day in 1993 that we lost one of the most charismatic figures ever to have raced in Formula 1 - the very talented James Hunt.

Born on August 29, 1947, the son of a London stockbroker was by all accounts a handful from the start - wilful, self-confident, hyperactive, contrary and persistently rebellious.

He was tall, handsome and gifted at sports from an early age - tennis and squash were his early favourites. Then on his 18th birthday he went to Silverstone to watch a motor race, and he was hooked.

He wasn't an immediate success behind the wheel - an early Formula Ford race ended up with the car sinking in a lake. He only survived because he wasn't wearing any seatbelts (non-mandatory at the time) because he couldn't afford them in his self-financed entry.

Things changed and he came to the attention of the Hesketh Racing team, which put him on the path to Formula 1. Despite his reputation for putting more effort into drinking champagne than he did out on the track, Hunt had a breakthrough success when he beat Niki Lauda's Ferrari to win the 1975 Dutch Grand Prix.

Hesketh exited F1 after that and Hunt replaced Emerson Fittipaldi at McLaren. It would prove to be one of the all-time classic seasons of F1: Hunt emerged world champion by a whisker at the final race of the season at Fuji in horrendous conditions.

Hunt quit racing in 1979 but had a second career in motorsports as a commentator for the BBC alongside Murray Walker.

Hunt didn't take it very seriously, but the initially acrimonious partnership turned to one of real warmth and mutual respect and is still remembered as one of the highpoints of F1 media coverage.

Despite having lost much of his money in failed business ventures, Hunt had probably rarely been happier in his life than he was on the evening of June 15, 1993. He was celebrating at home in Wimbledon, South London having just got engaged for the third time (to Helen).

Later that night, apparently without warning, Hunt died of a massive heart attack. He was just 45 years old.