F1 Legend Niki Lauda Dies Aged 70: About The Comeback King

Three-time Formula 1 World Champion, airline entrepreneur and non-executive chairman for the F1 Merecedes team, Niki Lauda, has died at the age of 70.


Nadim Nyker |

It was the year 1976, Niki Lauda was back racing six weeks after waking up from a coma. The legendary Formula 1 driver was on his way to winning his second F1 World Championship Title when he lost control of his Ferarri at the Nürburgring circuit in Germany.

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Lauda was coming around a bend when his Ferrari veered into a wall and burst into flames (see video below). Lauda suffered severe burns which put him into a coma, and a priest was even summoned to his bedside to read him his last rites. But just 43 days later he returned to the track, with the Austrian placing second in the championship behind James Hunt.

And despite being left with permanent breathing problems and badly scarred, he continued to win two more driver’s titles to add to the one he had landed the year before the accident.

The comeback is amongst the greatest in history, and highly considered the greatest of all time. Lauda, who underwent a lung transplant in August, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday, a family spokeswoman said in a statement. But his career feats will see him forever immortalised in the hearts and minds of F1 fans across the globe.

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Lauda’s achievements seem endless; becoming an airline entrepreneur and finding Luada Airlines while still racing. “His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain a role model and a benchmark for all of us,” his family’s statement said.

According to Moneyweb, he later sold the carrier to Austrian Airlines and formed Niki, a company he sold twice – rescuing it after the business had become embroiled in the collapse of Air Berlin – and selling it to Irish low-cost specialist Ryanair Holdings Plc.

His passion and determination for success was shown in both his driving and business endeavours, with Lauda fighting hard for his shot on the track. Lauda, who was born in 1949, pursued his racing career against the wishes of his family, and he took out personal bank loans to ensure he had a chance in the big-money world of F1.

 

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In most recent times Lauda became an adviser for the Ferrari race team, before becoming the non-executive chairman of the Mercedes F1 team in 2012. It was Lauda who helped bring F1 kingpin Lewis Hamilton to the team, and since, Mercedes have dominated the hybrid era – with three drivers’ world titles from Hamilton and one from the now retired Nico Rosberg, alongside four constructors’ championships.

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Rosberg thanked Lauda in a tweet, saying : “Dear Niki. Thank you for everything that you did for me. I learned so much from you. Your passion, your fighting spirit, to never give up, you belief that you always meet twice in life, and even your patience with us youngsters.”

Mclaren tweeted that Lauda would be “enshrined in our history,” whilst ex F1 driver Jenson Button called him a “legend”.

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