Andreas Nikolaus Lauda He was always clear that he did not want to follow in his father's footsteps and become an entrepreneur. This boy from Vienna (Austria), born on February 22, 1949, liked adrenaline and motor racing was the best way to quench that thirst for vertigo.
Despite the opposition of his family, he participated in whatever race was within his reach. The first steps were taken in climbing competitions in 1968, then he ran in the Formula Vee and reached the F3, which seemed very insecure. Now with the family support he jumped to the F2 in 1971.
The Lauda fortune allowed Niki to take the next step: running in the F1. The debut was at the Austrian GP of '71 with a March, which did not allow him to get to see the checkered flag.
In 1972 he continued with the team founded by Max Mosley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker and Robin Herd and in 1973 it happened British Racing Motors (BRM). With both teams he achieved interesting results, something that captured the interest of Ferrari. His arrival in Maranello took place in 1974 thanks to the good comments of the Swiss Clay regazzoni, who had been his partner in BRM.
With the Scuderia came the first great results. In that tournament he won in his fourth race on a Ferrari (Spanish Grand Prix). That year he achieved another victory (Dutch GP) and was on the podium three more times. The following year was that of the Lauda explosion. In his third full season in F.1 he won the title in a campaign that included five wins (three of them in a row).
In 1976 Lauda started with everything, with the firm intention of retaining the "1". He prevailed in four of the first six races and was second in the other two. The point advantage was wide enough when the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring circuit, but fate played a trick on him.
At the Berwerk corner, during the second lap of the race, Lauda lost control of his car and crashed into the wall. The car caught fire and only the reaction of the drivers Harald Ertl, Guy Edwards y Arturo Merzario, they helped him escape from that hell.
Niki had suffered very serious burns and even received last rites. Although he was about to die, he recovered in record time: a month and a half after the accident he returned to Monza (Italy).
The two races of absence were well used by the English James Hunt (McLaren), with whom he defined the title on the last date of the year in Fuji, Japan.
In the middle of a big downpour, Lauda, who did not have sufficient visibility due to the consequences of his burned face, and voluntarily left the competition. That allowed Hunt to get the crown by a point advantage.
Once that difficult moment was over, Lauda was crowned champion again in 1977, although his relationship with Ferrari had deteriorated considerably. The best decision was to go to Parmalat Racing Team, which ran with the chassis Brabham.
Despite his momentum, he did not achieve great results (only two victories in two seasons) and retired in late 1979 to dedicate himself to the charter company he had founded.
His experience as an aeronautical entrepreneur was not entirely good and, suffering from serious financial problems, he had to get back on an F.1. The return was in 1982 by the hand of McLaren. He quickly proved that his talent was intact and secured the 1984 scepter.
A year after his third title, his final retirement came, although he never left F.1 since he held positions of advisor in teams such as Jaguar y Mercedes, where he served until 2018 as its non-executive president.
Niki Lauda passed away at dawn on Monday May 20 at age 70, but its memory will remain in time because legends are eternal.