Niki Lauda, whose full name was Andreas Nikolaus Lauda, was an Austrian Formula One driver and aviation entrepreneur. He achieved remarkable success in the world of motorsports, winning the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship three times: in 1975, 1977, and 1984. What makes Lauda truly unique is that he is the only driver in Formula One history to have secured the championship for both Ferrari and McLaren, two of the sport’s most illustrious constructors.
Lauda’s journey was marked by both triumph and adversity. The 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring circuit stands out as the defining moment of Lauda’s career. On August 1, 1976, Lauda, driving for Ferrari, was leading the championship battle against his arch-rival, James Hunt of McLaren. The Nürburgring, known for its treacherous 14-mile track, posed immense challenges even for seasoned drivers.
During the second lap of the race, tragedy struck. Lauda’s Ferrari 312T2 veered off the track, hit an embankment, and burst into flames. He was trapped inside the inferno for agonizing seconds before being rescued by fellow drivers. Lauda suffered severe burns to his face, head, and lungs. His life hung in the balance.
Remarkably, just six weeks later, Lauda defied all odds and returned to racing at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. His face still bandaged, he climbed back into the cockpit, displaying unparalleled courage and determination. Although he missed the championship that year by a narrow margin, his resilience and comeback were nothing short of heroic.
After a brief hiatus, Lauda made a courageous comeback and raced for McLaren between 1982 and 1985. In a thrilling finale, he secured the 1984 title by a mere half point over his teammate, Alain Prost.
Beyond racing, Lauda was also an aviation entrepreneur, founding and managing three airlines: Lauda Air, Niki, and Lauda. He served as a consultant for Scuderia Ferrari and briefly managed the Jaguar Formula One racing team. Later in his career, he worked as a pundit for German TV during Grand Prix weekends and held a non-executive chairman position at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, of which he owned 10%.
The legendary Niki Lauda passed away on May 20, 2019. His death was attributed to complications arising from lung transplantation. Lauda had undergone a lung transplant in August 2018 due to respiratory issues. Despite his remarkable recovery, he eventually succumbed to health complications related to the procedure. His legacy as a tenacious racer and influential figure in the world of motorsports lives on, inspiring generations of racing enthusiasts.

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