F1 Austrian racer, Niki Lauda has died aged 70

The Racer Niki Lauda Died at the Age of 70

Sport

Miraculously caught up in a terrible F1 accident in 1976, Austrian racer Niki Lauda died peacefully Monday 20th May, 2019 at the age of 70.

A man in a burning cockpit, died peacefully a few decades later: Niki Lauda , who died on Monday 20th May, 2019 at the age of 70, was a legend of F1 forever associated with his terrible accident of 1976.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce that our dear Niki died peacefully, Monday, May 20, 2019, surrounded by his family,” said the relatives of the former driver in an email quoted by these media.

On August 1, 1976, driving his Ferrari on the Nürburgring circuit in Germany, his Ferrari suddenly went into the wall and ignited. He remains almost a minute in the cockpit, before being extracted by three competitors.

The images of the terrible crash of the reigning world champion shocked the world. But Lauda is a fighter, who will come back to life.

Video. The accident of Niki Lauda on the Nürburgring 

Six weeks after receiving the extreme unction on his hospital bed, he takes the general amazement at the start of the Italian Grand Prix despite his suffering, and serious lesions on the face .

That season, he fought for the title until the last race with the British James Hunt, finally crowned. This epic clash, revealing the extraordinary character of the Austrian, was told in 2013 in the film “Rush”, the American Ron Howard.

In 1977, the survivor won his second world champion title with Ferrari. He stopped the competition at the end of 1979 to found Lauda Air.

Niki Lauda drives his Ferrari 312 B3 at the Grand Prix de France in Dijon-Prénois on July 7, 1974
Niki Lauda drives his Ferrari 312 B3 at the Grand Prix de France in Dijon-Prénois on July 7, 1974. (© AFP / -)

“Gladiators”

But he found the circuits in 1982, driving a McLaren with which he conquers in 1984 his ultimate world title.

He became non-executive president of the Mercedes team in 2012, the man with the eternal advertising cap half hiding his scars remains ubiquitous on the circuits, where he is appreciated for his expertise and his outspokenness, deploring in particular that lost “The gladiatorial fighting aspect” of his sport.

He was listened to, he who had marked the history of his sport by being meticulous in his preparation and determined on the circuits.

His false F1 start in 1979 is linked to his second passion: civil aviation. A pioneer of private charter, he created his own airline that same year, which he sold profitably to Austrian Airlines in 2002.

It is far from the last looping of this wise businessman, also confirmed airline pilot. In 2004, he created the very profitable low-cost airline Niki, which he sold in 2011 to the German Air Berlin.

“His unique success as a sportsman and entrepreneur is and will remain unforgettable. His tireless dynamism, his frankness and his courage remain an example and a reference for us, “said the family.

“Outside of public life, it was a husband, a father, and a loving, caring grandfather. We will miss him a lot, “she added.

Three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda on January 13, 2002 after testing the Jaguar R2 on the Valencia circuit (Spain).
Three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda on January 13, 2002 after testing the Jaguar R2 on the Valencia circuit (Spain). (© AFP / Archives / Pierre-Philippe MARCOU)

Mini beginnings

Lauda, ​​who at the same time ran a small business jet company, has, however, experienced drama as a company boss. On May 26, 1991, the Boeing 767 flying Lauda Air Bangkok-Vienna crashed with 223 people on board due to a structural technical failure. There is no survivor.

Born on 22 February 1949 to a family of the Viennese business bourgeoisie, Andreas Nikolaus Lauda, ​​known as Niki, is the father of four children from two different marriages.

He was not twenty when, without warning his parents, he played his first race in 1968 with a Mini Cooper offered by his grandmother.

Toxic gases inhaled during his 1976 accident weakened his body. After two kidney transplants in 1997 and 2005, he had endured in August 2018 extreme emergency lung transplant after contracting a virus during a stay in Ibiza.

Operated at the General Hospital (AKH) in Vienna the day after the anniversary of the crash, it was hardly delivered. “It’s hard to come back. It does not compare to my burns after the Nürburgring accident, “he told the Swiss newspaper Blick .

“I am briefly dead. But I rose again.”

Former Austrian F1 driver Niki Lauda, ​​February 1, 2015 in Jerez (Spain).
Former Austrian F1 driver Niki Lauda, ​​February 1, 2015 in Jerez (Spain). (© AFP / Archives / Jorge Guerrero)

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