Niki Lauda’s full name was Andreas Nikolaus Lauda. He was born in 1949 and sadly passed away in 2019 at the age of 70. Lauda was born in Vienna into a wealthy family, renowned for the manufacture of paper. He was most famous for being a successful F1 Driver, but he was also a man of many other talents. He was an avid aviation entrepreneur and founded and managed 3 different airlines. These included Niki, Lauda Air and Lauda. Furthermore, Lauda was a Bombardier Business Aircraft brand ambassador.
In addition, he was team manager for Jaguar Formula One racing team for a couple of years. He was a consultant for Ferrari and an Executive Director for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, which he owned a 10% stake in. After retirement he worked as an F1 pundit for German TV.
His racing career nearly didn’t happen due to his family’s disapproval of racing. As a result, he fell out with his father and didn’t speak to him for years. Lauda started his racing career with Mini, then moved onto Porsche and Chevron. He took out a bank loan to fund his move into F2 in 1971. Lauda moved up to F1 and raced in both F1 and F2 in 1972.
Lauda joined Ferrari in 1974 until 1977 and won his first World Championship in 1975. He dominated the 1976 season until his crash in Nurburgring. During the 2nd lap his Ferrari came off the track, but the side and burst into flames. He was stuck in his car afterwards and had to be pulled out by 3 other drivers. His modified helmet fell off and was exposed to the fire, leaving him with horrendous facial scars for the rest of his life. His lungs were also exposed to toxic fumes and collapsed into a coma. Impressively he returned to racing within six weeks and only missed 2 races. He finished 2nd in the World Championship that year.
During his last year with Ferrari in 1977 he finished 1st. He later went on to drive for McLaren and is the only driver to have who the Championship with both teams. He is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest Formula One Drivers of all time.