Andreas Nikolaus "Niki" Lauda (22 February 1949 - 20 May 2019) was an Austrian Formula One driver and avaiation entrepeneur. He was a three-time World Champion, winning the title in 1975, 1977 and 1984. He also nearly won the 1976 title, despite a massive crash at the German Grand Prix which left him with severe burns, and almost killed him.
Formula One Career[edit | edit source]
Born into a wealthy family, Lauda was considered one of Formula One's first pay drivers, but his family heavily disapproved him of racing, so he therefore entered his way into F1 with a bank loan. However, he was found to be good, and managed to find a drive with the March team in both F1 and Formula 2, making his debut at his home race in 1971. In 1973, he tested for the declining BRM team, and despite proving his speed, only scored two points in the season.
In 1974, his career changed. BRM teammate, Clay Regazzoni, moved back to Ferrari, and as Ferrari did not have a second driver, they inquired about Lauda to Regazzoni. Regazzoni thought highly of Lauda's ability and Ferrari signed him, allowing Lauda to pay his bank loans. A good first season followed, starting off with a second place, and despite ending the season with five consecutive retirements, Lauda scored two wins and nine pole positions. The next season was even better, Lauda calling it "the unbelievable year". The season started slowly, with five points after four races, but then the next five races included four victories and a second place. Lauda also won the last race to take his first championship. The championship looked in the bag after Lauda started the 1976 season very strongly, scoring podiums in the first seven races. However, Lauda had a massive crash at the Nürburgring, in which he nearly died in his burning car. His chances of survival were so slim that he was given last rites. It was later discovered that Lauda had been wearing a helmet that did not meet the regulations. The helmet was wider and contained more padded foam for extra comfort. In the impact, the foam compressed and allowed the helmet to slip from Lauda's head. Had he been wearing a regulation helmet, the helmet would have had a greater chance of staying on his head and prevented facial damage from burns. Unbelievably though, Lauda returned after just 39 days, having missed two races, and he almost won the championship, being beaten by James Hunt after withdrawing (on safety grounds) in the extreme wet conditions at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Lauda's recovery was such that he dominated the 1977 season, taking three wins and six second places, and not bothering to drive the last two races after Ferrari wanted to give Gilles Villeneuve a go in a third car. However, after the three glorious years with Ferrari, Lauda quit the team to join Brabham in 1978. He drove strongly, scoring just seven podiums but retiring in every other race. In 1979, the Brabham car was poor, notching up retirement after retirement, and Lauda only scored four points, and he retired from F1 before the Canadian Grand Prix, tired of driving in circles.
Lauda surprisingly returned in 1982 with the McLaren team, after being convinced by then team principal Ron Dennis for a $3 million salary. He enjoyed a good first season on his comeback, winning twice, and coming fifth in the championship. 1983 was even worse, as after scoring ten points in the first two races, he only scored two more in the remaining thirteen, even failing to qualify at the Monaco Grand Prix.
1984 was a much better year, as Lauda took the championship from Alain Prost by just half a point, the smallest margin on record, taking five wins and four second places in the process. After a weak 1985 (with a win), Lauda retired for the second and final time.
Life after Formula One[edit | edit source]
Lauda founded his first airline, Lauda Air, in April 1979. In 2000, he was ousted from the Lauda Air board. In late 2003, Lauda acquired the former Aero Lloyd Austria operation and set up a new airline, Niki. He held a commercial pilot's license and occasionally acted as captain on his airline.
While he was airline manager at Lauda Air, he was appointed consultant at Ferrari by Luca di Montezemolo in an effort to rejuvenate the team. In mid-2001, he was appointed Chairman of Jaguar, but was removed from his position after the 2002 season.
Lauda died on 20 May 2019 at University Hospital Zürich at the age of 70 following a period of ill health.
Formula One Statistical Overview[edit | edit source]
Formula One Record[edit | edit source]
|Year||Entrant||Team||WDC Points||WDC Pos.||Report|
|1971||STP March Racing Team||March-Ford Cosworth||0||NC||Report|
|1972||STP March Racing Team||March-Ford Cosworth||0||23rd||Report|
|1974||Scuderia Ferrari SpA||Ferrari||38||4th||Report|
|1975||Scuderia Ferrari SpA||Ferrari||64.5||1st||Report|
|1976||Scuderia Ferrari SpA||Ferrari||68||2nd||Report|
|1977||Scuderia Ferrari SpA||Ferrari||72||1st||Report|
|1978||Parmalat Racing Team||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||44||4th||Report|
|1979||Parmalat Racing Team||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||4||14th||Report|
|1982||Marlboro McLaren International||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||30||5th||Report|
|1983||Marlboro McLaren International||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||12||10th||Report|
|1984||Marlboro McLaren International||McLaren-TAG||72||1st||Report|
|1985||Marlboro McLaren International||McLaren-TAG||14||10th||Report|
Non-Racing Formula One Career[edit | edit source]
|2001||Chief Executive Officer||Jaguar Racing|
|2002||Chief Executive Officer||Jaguar Racing|
|Non-executive Chairman||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team|
|2014||Non-executive Chairman||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team|
|2015||Non-executive Chairman||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team|
|2016||Non-executive Chairman||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team|
|2017||Non-executive Chairman||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team|
|2018||Non-executive Chairman||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team|
|2019||Non-executive Chairman||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team|
Career Statistics[edit | edit source]
|Front Row Starts||31|
|Distance Raced||37521.140 km (23315 mi)|
Race Wins[edit | edit source]
Career Results[edit | edit source]
|Complete Formula One results|
|1980||Did not compete|
|3rd||DNQ||Did not qualify|
|5th||Points finish||DNPQ||Did not pre-qualify|
|14th||Non-points finish||TD||Test driver|
|NC||Non-classified finish (<90% race distance)||DNS||Did not start|
|Italics||Scored point(s) for Fastest Lap||[+] More Symbols|
[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- "Mercedes give Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda new long-term contracts". skysports.com. 20 February 2017. http://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/10775198/mercedes-give-toto-wolff-and-niki-lauda-new-long-term-contracts. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- Race stopped after 29/75 Laps. Half points awarded
- Race stopped after 29/54 Laps. Half points awarded
- Race stopped after 31/76 Laps. Half points awarded
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