you may have heard the recent news that the racing community lost a Formula 1 legend this month, but if you haven't you can check out the news article here, but famed 3 time F1 champion Niki Lauda passed away recently this month at the age of 70, it's a tragic loss to both me as a fan of this guy and the racing community.
he was considered one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time.
today in the AutoSkunk Review I will doing a tribute review to pay homage to him reviewing his life and career from beginning to end.
originally I was thinking about doing a review on the Indianapolis 500 and history behind the event but then I saw news about Niki Lauda passing away and decided my devote my next (this one) to him.
so let's look back remember, this is the story of Niki Lauda.
(His early years of racing)
Andreas Nikolaus Lauda or Niki Lauda as he was refered to as, was born on February 22 1949 in Vienna Austria to a wealthy family.
his paternal grandfather was a Viennese born industrialist named Hans Lauda.
Niki became a race car driver despite the disapproval of his family.
Lauda began his driving career with a Mini Cooper and he eventually moved on to Formula Volkswagen (or Formula Vee as it was known) as was normal in central Europe, but quickly moved up the latter to drive in private Porsche and Chevron sports cars.
with his career stalled, he took out a 30,000 pound bank loan secured with a life insurance policy to buy his way into the fledgling March team as a formula two driver in 1971.
because of his family's disapproval, he had an ongoing fued with them over his racing ambitions and abandoned further contact with his family and no longer soke to them.
Lauda was later quickly promoted to March's formula one team thus graduating to F1 the highest and top notch division of formula racing.
he drove for March for another year in both F1 and F2 in 1972.
while the F2 cars were good with Lauda's driving skills impressing the team, the team's 1972 F1 season was a disaster.
the worst came at the season's Canadian Grand Prix where both March race cars were disqualified within three laps of each other just after 3/4 of the race.
Lauda again took out another bank loan to buy his way into another race team (BRM) in 1973.
as a result Lauda was instantly quick but the team was in decline, his big break would later come when his teammate Clay Reggazoni left to rejoin Ferrari in 1974, Enzo Ferrari, the founder and owner of both the company and the Scuderia Ferrari team asked Clay what he though about Niki.
Reggazoni replied favourably of Lauda and as a result Ferrari signed him on to the team paying enough money to pay off his debts.
1973 was Niki Lauda's first season with Ferrari but it didn't go his way very well.
(Niki's Ferrari years, 1974-1977)
after a disastorous start in the 73 F1 season, the Scuderia Ferrari team regrouped under the guidance of Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo and were resurgent in 1974.
the team had faith in Niki and he was quickly rewarded with a second place finish in his debut race with Ferrari at the season opener in the Argentine Grand Prix.
his first Grand Prix win that was also Ferrari's first win since 1972 was at the Spanish Grand Prix.
although Lauda became the season's pacesetter achieving six consecutive pole positions, a mixture of inexperience and mechanical unreliability lead Niki to only win one more race that year, the Dutch Grand Prix.
he finished fourth n the Driver's Championship and demonstrated immense commitment to testing and improving the car applying his highly impressive engineering know how into his car.
in 1975, the Formula one season had a slow start for Niki, after finishing no better than fifth place in the four races, he won four of the next five later in the season driving the then new Ferrari 312T.
his first world championship was confirmed with a thrid place finish at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Lauda's teammate Reggazoni won the race and Ferrari claimed their first constructor's championbship in eleven years, Lauda then picked up a fifth win at the last race of the year at the the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.
he also became the first driver to run a lap around the nurburgring in under seven minutes, which was coinsidered a huge feat as the Nordschleife section of the nurburgring was two miles longer than it is today.
Lauda was known for giving away any trophies he won to his local garage in exchange for his car to be serviced and washed.
unlike 1975 and despite tensions between Lauda and Montezemolo's successor, Daniele Audetto, Lauda dominated the start of the 1976 F1 season, winning four of the first six races and finishing second in the other two.
by the time of his fith win of the year at the British Grand Prix, he had more than double the pointsof his closest challengers Jody Schekter, and James Hunt, and a second consecutive world championship appeared to be possible.
it would be a feat not acheived since Jack Brabham's victories in 1959 and 1960.
he also looked set to win the most races in a season, a record held by the late Jim Clark since 1963.
(Lauda's disasterous crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix)
a week before the 1976 German grand prix at the Nurburgring, even though he was the fastest driver on the ring at the time, Lauda urged his fellow drivers to boycott the race due to concerns of the track's safety arrangement, citing the organiser's lack of resources to properly managed a giant race track, including lack of fire marshals, and fire and safety safety vehicles as well as a concern for rain.
most of the other drivers voted against the boycott and the race went ahead.
on August 1st, 1976, during the second lap of the German grand prix and at the very fast left kink before Bergwerk, Lauda's Ferrari suddenly swerved off the track out of control and slams into the wall punturing the fuel tank and igniting the fuel which instantly ingulfed the car in flames right before being hit by American driver Brett Lunger in his Surtees Ford.
unlike Lunger, Lauda was trapped in the burning wreckage of his car, drivers Arturo Merzario, Brett Lunger, and Guy Edwards, and fellow Austrian driver Harald Ertl arrived at the scene a few moments later, but before Merzario could pull Niki out of his car, Lauda suffered severe burns to his head and inhaled toxic gasses that damaged his lungs and blood.
as Lauda was wearing a modified helmet because it didn't fit him properly, the foam had compressed and it slid off his head on impact of the accident leaving his face completely exposed to the flames.
although he was conscious and was able to stand immediately after the crash he later lapsed into a coma.
Lauda suffered extensive scarring from the severe burns to his head, losing most of his right ear and the hair on the right side of his head, his eyebrows, and his eyelids.
he chose to limit reconstructive surgery to replacing the eyelids and getting them working properly.
after his accident he always wore a cap to cover the scars on his head.
he arranged for sponsors to use the cap for advertising.
with Lauda out of the season, Carlos Reutemann was taken on as his replacement.
but in the next race in Austria, Ferrari boycotted the Austrian grand prix in protest at what they say as preferential treatment towards McLaren driver James Hunt at the Spanish and British grand prixs.
in spite of his severe condition.
(Return to racing)
Lauda only missed two races over the course of six weeks and he later arrived at the Italian grand prix at Monza and attended a press conference with fresh burns still bandaged.
he finished fourth in the Italian grand prix despite being by his own admission absolutely petrified.
an Formula one journalist, Nigel Roebuck, recalls seeing Niki Lauda in the pits peeling off his blood soaked bandages off his scarred scalp.
James Hunt and Niki Lauda were friends away from the circuit, and their personal on track rivalry, while intense, was cleanly contested and fair.
following wins in the Canadian and United States grand prix, Hunt stood only three points behind Lauda befoire the final race of the season in Japan, in the Japanese grand Prix at Fuji Speedway.
Lauda qualified third behind Hunt, but on race day there was a torrential rainfall and Lauda retired after completing two laps unwilling to run the race due concerns with the rain and mist.
he later said to the press that he felt it was unsafe to continue under these conditions, especially since his eyes were watering excessively because of his fire damaged tear ducts and inability to blink.
Hunt led much of the race before his tires started blistering and a pit stop dropped him the order just out of championship contention.
amazingly he managed to recover and finish the race in third place thus barely gaining juse one point over Niki Lauda and snatching the 1976 F1 World Championship title from him.
Niki's relationship with Ferrari was severely affected by his withdrawell from Japanese grand prix and after the 1976 season Niki endured a miserable 1977 Formula One season, despite him easily winning the 1977 world championship through consistency rather than outright pace.
Lauda disliked his new teammate, Reutemann, who had served as his replacement driver.
Lauda was not comfortable with this move and felt he had been let down by Ferrari.
(from Niki Lauda's own words): "we never could stand each other, and instead of taking pressure off of me, they put on even more by bringing Carlos Reutemann into the team."
having announced his decision to leave Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the 1977 season, Lauda left earlier after he won the driver's championship at the United States grand prix because of the team's decision to run the unkown Gilles Villeneuve in a third car at the Canadian grand prix.
having joined Brabham-Alfa Romeo in 1978 for a one million dollar salary, Lauda endured two unseccessful seasons, remembered mainly for his one race in the Brabham BT64B, a radical design known as the fan car, it won it's first and only race at the Swedish grand prix, but Brabham did not use the car in Formula One ever again, other teams vigorously protested the fan car's legality and Brabham team owner Bernie Ecclestone, who at the time was maneuvering for acquisition of Formula One's commercial rights, did not want to fight a protracted battle over the car, but the victory in Sweden remained official.
the Brabham BT46 Alfa Romeo flat twelve began the 1978 season at the third race in South Africa.
it suffered from a variety of problems that forced Lauda to retire the car out of nine of the fourteen races in the season.
Lauda's best results apart from the wins in Sweden and Italy after the penalization of Mario Andretti and Gilles Villeneuve, were second in Montreal and Great Britian, and third in the Netherlands.
as the Alfa flat twelve engine was too wide for effective wing car designs, Alfa provided a V12 for 1979.
it was the fourth twelve cylinder engine design that propelled the Austrian in Formula One since 1973.
Lauda's 1979 F1 season was again marred by retirements amd poor pace even though he won the non champoionship 1979 Dino Ferrari grand prix with the Brabham Alfa.
in the single make BMW M1 Procar Championship, driving the British Formula Two team Project Four Racing (led by Ron Dennis) when not in a factory entry, Lauda won three races for P4 plus the series.
decades later, Niki Lauda won a BMW Procar exhibition race event before the 2008 German grand prix.
in September, Lauda finished fourth at Monza and won the non WC Imola event, still with Alfa V12 engine.
after that, Brabham returned to the familiar Cosworth V8.
in late September, during practice for the 1979 Canadian grand prix, Lauda informed Ecclestone that he widh to retire immediately, as he had no more desire to "drive around in circles".
Lauda, who in the meantime got into the aviation business following his passion for aviation and airplanes and founded his own airline service, Lauda Air, returned to Austria to run the company full time.
(McLaren comeback, third world championship title, and his second reitirement from racing 1982-1985)
in 1982 Niki Lauda returned to racing for an unprecedented $3 million dollar salary.
after an unseccessful test with McLaren, the only problem was to convince the team sponsor Marlboro that he was still capable of winning.
Lauda proved he was when in his third race back, he won the Long Beach grand prix.
before the opening race of the season at the Kyalami race track in South Africa, Lauda was the organizer of the so called "driver's strike"; Lauda had seen that the new super license required the drivers to commit themselves to their present teams and realised this could hinder a driver's negotiating position.
the drivers, with the exception of Teo Fabi, barricaded themselves in a banqueting suite at Sunnyside Park Hotel until they had won the day.
the 1983 season proved to be trasitional for the McLaren team as they were making a change from Ford-Cosworth power to TAG-badged Porsche turbo power and Lauda did not win a race that year, with his best finish being second at Long Beach behind his teammate John Watson.
some political maneuvering by Lauda forced a furious cheif designer John Barnard to design an interim car earlier than expected to get the TAG-Porsche engine some much needed race testing; Lauda nearly won the last race of the season in South Africa.
Lauda won a third world championship title in 1984 by half a point teammate Alain Prost due only to half points being awarded for the shortened 1984 Monaco grand prix.
his Austrian grand prix vicotry that year is so far the only time an Austrian has won his home grand prix.
initially Lauda did not want Prost to become his teammate as he presented a much faster rival.
however, during the two seasons together, they had a good relationship and Lauda later said that beating the talented Frenchman was a big motivator for him.
the whole season continued to be dominated by Lauda and Prost, who won twelve out of sixteen races.
Lauda won five races while Prost won seven.
however, Lauda, who set a record for the most pole positions in a season during the 1975 season, rarely matched his teammate in qualifying.
despite this, Lauda's championship win came in Portugal, when he had to start in eleventh place on the grid, while Prost qualified on the front row.
Prost did everything he could, starting from second and winning his seventh race of the season, but Lauda's calculating drive (which included setting the fastest lap), passing car after car, saw him finish second behind his teammate which won him enough points to win his third world championship title.
his second place finish was a lucky one though as Nigel Mansell was in second place for most of the race.
however, as it was his last race with Lotus before joining Williams in 1985, Lotus boss Peter Warr refuse to give Mansell the brakes he wanted for his car and the Englishman retired with brake failure on lap 52.
as Lauda had passed the Toleman of Formula One rookie Ayrton Senna for third place only a few laps earlier, Mansell's retirement elevated him to second behind Prost.
the 1985 season was a disappointment for Niki Lauda, with multiple retirements from eleven of fourteen races he started.
he did not start the Belgian grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps after crashing and breaking his wrist during practice, and he later missed the European grand prix at Brands Hatch; John Watson replaced him for that race.
he did manage to finish fourth at the San Marino grand prix, fifth at the German grand prix, and a single race win at the Dutch grand prix where he held off a fast finishing Prost late in the race.
this proved to be his last grand prix victory and also the last Formula One grand prix held in the Netherlands.
after announcing his impending reitement at the 1985 Austrian grand prix, he retired for good at the end of the season.
Lauda's final Formula One grand prix race was the inaugural Australian grand prix in Adelaide, South Australia.
after qualifying sixteenth, a steady drive saw him leading by lap 53.
however, the McLaren's ceramic brakes suffered on the street circuit and he crashed out of the lead at the end of the long Brabham straight on lap 57 when his brakes finally failed.
he was one of only two drivers in the race who had driven the non championship 1984 Australian grand prix, the other being 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg, who won in Adelaide in 1985 anbd would take Lauda's place at McLaren in 1986.
(later management roles)
in 1993, Lauda returned to Formula One in a managerial position when Luca Di Montezemolo offered him a consulting role at Ferrari.
halfway through the 2001 season, Lauda assumed the role of team principle of the Jaguar Formula One team.
the team however, failed to improve and Lauda was made redundent, together with seventy other key figures at the end of 2002.
in September 2012, he was appointed non executive chairman of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.
he took part in negotiations to sign Lewis Hamilton to a three year deal with Mercedes.
(roles beyond Formula One)
Lauda later returned to running his airline business, Lauda Air, on his second Formula One retirement in 1985.
during his time as an airline manager, he was appointed consultant at Ferrari as part of an effort by Montezemolo to rejuvinate the team.
after selling his Lauda Air shares to majority partner Austrian Airlines in 1999, he managed the Jaguar Formula One racing team from 2001 to 2002.
in late 2003, he started a new airline, this time just being called Niki.
similar to Lauda Air, Niki was merged with it's major partner Air Berlin in 2011.
in early 2016, Lauda took over chartered airline Amira Air and renamed the company LaudaMotion.
as a result of Air Berlin's insolvency in 2017, LaudaMotion took over the Niki brand and asset after an unsuccessful bid by Lufthansa and IAG.
Lauda held a commercial pilot's license and from time to time acted as a captain on the flights of his airline.
in 1993, Niki Lauda was inducted into the Motorposrts Hall of Fame and from 1996 provided commentary on grand prixs for Austrian and German television on RTL.
he was, however, criticized for calling Robert Kubica a "polacke" (meaning an ethnic slur Polish people).
it happened on air in 2010 at the Monaco grand prix.
Lauda is sometimes known by his nickname "the rat", "super rat", or "king rat" because of his prominent buck teeth.
he was associated with both Parmalat and Viessman, sponsoring the ever present cap he wore from 1976 to hide his severe burns on his scalp he sustained from his Nurburgring accident.
Lauda said in a 2009 interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit that an advertiser was paying 1.2 million euros for the space on his red cap.
in 2005, the Austrian post office issued a stamp honoring him.
in 2008, American Sports television network ESPN ranked him 22nd on their top drivers of all time.
during his life, Niki Lauda wrote five books: The art and science of grand prix driving (titled Forula 1: The art and technicalities of grand prix driving in some markets) in 1975, My years with Ferrari in 1978, The new Formula One: A turbo age in 1984, Meine story (titled To hell and back in some markets) in 1986, and Das dritte Leben (in English it means The third life) in 1996.
Lauda credited Austrian journalist Herbert Volker with editing the books.
(film and television)
in 2013 a movie about Niki Lauda's and James Hunt's fierce rivalry with each other titled "Rush" was premiered in theatres, the fierce battle between Hunt and Lauda was dramatized in the final racing scene near the end of the movie.
Niki Lauda was played by Daniel Bruh, in the final of the film Niki made a cameo appearance.
Lauda said of Hunt's death, "when I heard he died at age 45 of a heart attack, I wasn't surprised, I was just sad."
he also said the Hunt was one of the very few he liked, a smaller number of people he respected and the only person he had envied.
Lauda even appeared in an episode of a air disaster series called Mayday titled "Niki Lauda: Testing the limits" regarding the events of Lauda Air flight 004.
Lauda had two sons with his first wife Marlene Knaus (married 1976, divorced 1991): Mathias Lauda, a race car driver himself, and Lukas Lauda, who acted as Mathias's manager.
in 2008, he married Birgit Wetzinger, a flight attendant for his airline.
in 2005, she donated a kidney to Lauda when the kidney he received from his brother in 1997 failed.
in September 2009, Birgit gave birth to twins.
on August 2 2018, it was announced that Lauda had successfully undergone a lung transplant operation in his native Austria.
(death and legacy)
on May 20 2019, Niki Lauda died in his sleep at the age of seventy years old, at the University hospital of Zurich, where he had been undergoing dialysis treatment for kidney problems, following a period of ill health.
a statement issued on behalf of his family reported that he had died peacefully, surrounded by family members.
various current and former drivers and teams paid tributes on social media and during the Wednesday press conference session before the 2019 Monaco grand prix.
his funeral at St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, was attended by many prominent Formula One figures including Lewis Hamilton, David Coulthard, Nico Rosberg, Alain Prost, and Jackie Stewart.
there were even Austrian politicians there as well, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Alexander Van Der Bellen.
while Niki Lauda may be gone, his legacy will live on forever and his spirit will also live on in the hearts of friends, family and fans around the world, and most especially the people in the F1 racing community that knew him, today Mathias Lauda continues the Lauda family racing legacy with current involvement in the FIA World Endurance Championship driving for Astin Martin and I do wish him great success in his driving career and continue to make his father proud.
the sport of Formula One lost who was perhaps one of motorsports's greatest drivers that ever lived but his legacy remains alive in the hearts and souls of many Formula One drivers today.
and that was story and tribute to Niki Lauda and I hope you all enjoyed reading this review, I'm sorry I never did an Indy 500 review for this month but hearing the news about Niki Lauda's passing I found it in my heart to cancel that review and a special tribute to Niki especially since I never got the chance to meet him face to face and never will now, for now I'll just have to save my Indianapolis 500 review for next year.
as far as I know I think this was best review I've ever done yet, nothing could spoil this moment for me at all and I mean absolutely nothing so let's see what's on the docket for my next review.
oh my god! no...no!...NNNOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
info source material