Andreas Nikolaus Lauda, known as Niki Lauda, was born on February 22, 1949 in Vienna, Austria. His parents wanted him to work in the industry sector, at the head of the family businesses but in Nikolaus’s blood, from a young age, there is the world of motors and, above all, of racing. So at just over 18, he runs in his first race and manages to take second place. The driver’s debut in Formula Three took place in 1970, when the young Lauda raced aboard a McNamara, without however obtaining the desired results but the following year he managed to participate in the Formula 2 World Championship.
The big occasion… the Cavallino
In 1971, he made his Formula 1 debut at the Austrian Grand Prix but a steering problem forced him to retire. The chance of a lifetime came in 1974 when a teammate recommended him to the great Enzo Ferrari, who hired Niki Lauda in the Cavallino team. With the contract he gets for Ferrari, the young Austrian driver is able to pay off all his debts and to devote himself body and soul to his new adventure. His first victory comes at the Spanish Grand Prix: with the Ferrari Lauda he won 2 world titles.
The 1976 accident
It is August 1st 1976 when Niki Lauda collides with a large stone at the Nurburgring circuit during his first lap. His Ferrari crashes unnaturally, turns around and catches fire. The pilot is extracted from the cockpit by a miracle; his conditions appear very serious right from the start. The Austrian reports burns in many parts of his body and severe respiratory complications. He is given up for dead from the first night, but to the surprise of the doctors, Lauda manages to recover and recovers in record time. The consequences of the accident will remain visible on his face for the rest of his life. Only 42 days after the accident, Lauda returned to the track in the Italian Grand Prix and managed to take fourth place.
Life after Formula 1
After his career as a pilot in 1985, Lauda became an entrepreneur and sports manager and founded three airlines: Lauda Air, Niki and Lauda Motion. He ran Jaguar for two seasons and became president of Mercedes AMG F1. On 20 May 2019, after being hospitalized for kidney problems, champion Niki Lauda died at the age of 70.