Niki Lauda

From Ferrari Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search


Niki Lauda
Nationality Flag of Austria Austrian
Formula One World Championship career
Active years1971 - 1979, 1982 - 1985
TeamsMarch, BRM, Ferrari, Brabham, McLaren
Races177 (171 starts)
Championships3 (1975, 1977, 1984)
Wins25
Podiums54
Career points420.5
Pole positions24
Fastest laps24
First race1971 Austrian Grand Prix
First win1974 Spanish Grand Prix
Last win1985 Dutch Grand Prix
Last race1985 Australian Grand Prix

Andreas Nikolaus "Niki" Lauda (born February 22, 1949 in Vienna) is an Austrian aviator, entrepreneur, former Formula One (F1) racing driver and three-time F1 World Champion. He has founded and run two airlines and was manager of the Jaguar Formula One racing team for two years.

Early years in racing

Born in Vienna, Austria, to a wealthy family. He was born and raised a Roman Catholic.. His paternal grandfather, Juan Lauda Crespo, was from Galicia, Spain. Lauda became a racing driver despite his family's disapproval. After starting out with a Mini, Lauda moved on into Formula Vee, as was normal in Central Europe, but rapidly moved up to drive in private Porsche and Chevron sports cars. His career seemed to be going nowhere in particular until he took out a large bank loan, secured by a life insurance policy, to buy his way into the fledgling March team as a Formula 2 (F2) driver in 1971. He was quickly promoted to the F1 team and drove for March in both F1 and F2 in 1972. Although the F2 cars were good (and Lauda's test-driving skills impressed March principal Robin Herd), March's 1972 F1 season was catastrophic and Lauda, in despair, briefly contemplated drastic action but finally took out yet another bank loan to buy his way into the BRM team in 1973. Lauda was instantly quick but the team was in decline; his big break came when his BRM team-mate Clay Regazzoni rejoined Ferrari in 1974 and team owner Enzo Ferrari asked him what he thought of Lauda. Regazzoni spoke favourably of Lauda, so Ferrari promptly went and signed him, paying Niki enough to clear his debts.

Ferrari 1974-1977

Lauda at the Nürburgring in 1973.

After an unsuccessful start to the 1970s culminating in a disastrous start to the 1973 season, Ferrari regrouped completely under Luca Montezemolo and were resurgent in 1974. The team's faith in the little-known Lauda was quickly rewarded by a second-place finish in his début race for the team, the season-opening Argentine Grand Prix. His first Grand Prix (GP) victory – and the first for Ferrari since 1972 – followed only three races later in Spain. Although Lauda became the season's pacesetter, achieving six consecutive pole positions, a mixture of inexperience and mechanical unreliability meant Lauda won only one more race that year, the Dutch GP. He finished fourth in the Drivers' Championship and demonstrated immense commitment to testing and improving the car.

The 1975 F1 season started slowly for Lauda, but after nothing better than a fifth-place finish in the first four races he then won four out of the next five races in the new Ferrari 312T. His first World Championship was confirmed with a fifth win at the last race of the year, the United States GP.

Unlike 1975, Lauda dominated the start of the 1976 F1 season, winning four of the first six races and finishing second in the other two. By the time of his fifth win of the year at the British GP, he had more than double the points of his closest challenger Jody Scheckter and a second consecutive World Championship appeared a formality. It would be a feat not achieved since Jack Brabham's victories in 1959 and 1960. He also looked set to win the most races in a season, a record held by the late Jim Clark since 1963.

Niki Lauda practicing at the Nürburgring during the 1976 German Grand Prix.

A turning point in his life was the second lap at the German GP at the long Nürburgring circuit. Lauda's car swerved off the track, due to a suspected rear suspension failure, hit an embankment and rolled back into the path of Brett Lunger's Surtees-Ford car. Lauda's car burst into flames, but, unlike Lunger, he was trapped in the wreckage. Drivers Arturo Merzario, Guy Edwards and Harald Ertl arrived at the scene a few moments later, but before they and Lunger were able to pull Lauda from his car, he suffered severe burns to his head and inhaled hot toxic gases that damaged his lungs and blood. Although Lauda was conscious and able to stand immediately after the accident, he later lapsed into a coma and a priest administered the last rites.[1]

Lauda suffered extensive scarring from the burns, which became possibly his most famous attribute in the eyes of the public. He only had enough reconstructive surgery to get his eyelids to work properly, but never felt a need to do any more. Since the accident he is almost never seen in public without a red cap to cover the scars on his head.

With Lauda out of the contest, Ferrari boycotted the Austrian GP in protest at what they saw a preferential treatment shown towards McLaren driver James Hunt at the Spanish and British GPs. Carlos Reutemann was even taken on as a potential replacement.

Lauda returned to race only six weeks (two races) later, finishing fourth in the Italian GP. In Lauda's absence, Hunt had reduced his lead in the World Championship standings. Following wins in the Canadian and United States GPs, Hunt stood only three points behind Lauda before the final race of the season, the Japanese GP.

Lauda qualified third, one place behind Hunt, but on race day there was torrential rain and Lauda retired after 2 laps, stating that he felt it was unsafe to continue under these conditions. Hunt led much of the race before a late puncture dropped him down the order. He recovered to 3rd, thus winning the title by a single point. In spite of this, Lauda's move is seen as one of the bravest examples in motor racing.

Lauda's previously good relationship with Ferrari was severely affected by his decision to withdraw from the race, and he endured a difficult 1977 season, despite easily winning the championship through consistency rather than outright pace. Having announced his decision to quit Ferrari at season's end, Lauda left early due to the team's decision to run the then unknown Gilles Villeneuve in a third car at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Brabham, retirement and the comeback with McLaren

Five years after his first retirement, Lauda won his third title driving a McLaren MP4/2.

Having joined Brabham in 1978 for a $1 million salary, Lauda endured two unsuccessful seasons, notable mainly for his one race in the Brabham BT46B, a radical design known as the Fan Car: it won its first race and was then promptly banned. At the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix, Lauda informed Brabham owner Bernie Ecclestone that he wished to retire immediately, as he had no more desire to "drive around in circles". Lauda, who had founded a charter airline, returned to Austria to run the company full-time.

Needing money to shore up his new business, in 1982 Lauda returned to racing, feeling that he still had a career in Formula One. After a successful test with McLaren, the only problem was in convincing then team sponsor Marlboro that he was still capable of winning. Lauda proved he was still quite capable when, in his third race back, he won the Long Beach Grand Prix. Lauda won a third world championship in 1984 by one-half point over teammate Alain Prost, who had the deciding matter, that it gave only half Points at the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix. His Austrian Grand Prix victory that year is the most recent time an Austrian has won his home Grand Prix. 1985 was a poor last Grand Prix season, with a 4th at the 1985 San Marino Grand Prix, a 5th at the 1985 German Grand Prix, thirteen retirements and only one race win at the 1985 Dutch Grand Prix. This proved to be his last Grand Prix victory and also the last Formula One Grand Prix held in the Netherlands.

Life after F1

Poster for Niki featuring a caricature of the boss, as shown in the Paris Métro.

Lauda returned to running his airline, Lauda Air, on his second Formula One retirement in 1985. During his time as airline manager, he was appointed consultant at Ferrari as part of an effort by Montezemolo to rejuvenate the team.[2] Ousted by boardroom politics after a sale to majority partner Austrian Airlines in 1999, he managed the Jaguar Formula One racing team from 2001 to 2002. In late 2003, he started a new airline, Niki. Lauda holds a commercial pilot's license and from time to time acts as a captain on the flights of his airline.

He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993. Since 1996 his comments on Formula One are widely quoted in the motorsport press, and he provides commentary for Austrian and German television coverage RTL. As a driver, Lauda was renowned for his clear-headed approach to driving, minimising risk whilst maximising results, and ruthless self-interest. Lauda is considered one of the most accomplished test drivers in the sport, often working long hours refining his car's performance.

Niki Lauda has written four books: The Art and Science of Grand Prix Driving (1975); My Years With Ferrari (1978); The New Formula One: A Turbo Age (1984); and an autobiography, Meine Story (titled To Hell and Back in some markets) (1986).[3] Lauda credits Austrian journalist Herbert Volker with editing the books.

Lauda is sometimes known by the rather uncomplimentary nickname "the rat" or "SuperRat", for his prominent buck teeth. He has been associated with both Parmalat and Viessmann, sponsoring his ever faithful 'cappy' from 1976 onwards, used to hide the severe burns he sustained in his 1976 accident.

In 2008, American sports television network ESPN ranked him 22nd on their top drivers of all-time.[4]

Complete Formula One results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Pts.
1971 STP March Racing Team March 711 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 RSA ESP MON NED FRA GBR GER AUT
Ret
ITA CAN USA NC 0
1972 STP March Racing Team March 721 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 ARG
11
RSA
7
NC 0
March 721X Ford Cosworth DFV V8 ESP
Ret
MON
16
BEL
12
March 721G Ford Cosworth DFV V8 FRA
Ret
GBR
9
GER
Ret
AUT
10
ITA
13
CAN
DSQ
USA
NC
1973 Marlboro-BRM BRM P160C BRM V12 ARG
Ret
BRA
8
18th 2
BRM P160D BRM V12 RSA
Ret
BRM P160E BRM V12 ESP
Ret
BEL
5
MON
Ret
SWE
13
FRA
9
GBR
12
NED
Ret
GER
Ret
AUT
DNS
ITA
Ret
CAN
Ret
USA
Ret
1974 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 312B3 Ferrari flat-12 ARG
2
BRA
Ret
RSA
16
ESP
1
BEL
2
MON
Ret
SWE
Ret
NED
1
FRA
2
GBR
5
GER
Ret
AUT
Ret
ITA
Ret
CAN
Ret
USA
Ret
4th 38
1975 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 312B3 Ferrari flat-12 ARG
6
BRA
5
1st 64.5
Ferrari 312T Ferrari flat-12 RSA
5
ESP
Ret
MON
1
BEL
1
SWE
1
NED
2
FRA
1
GBR
8
GER
3
AUT
6
ITA
3
USA
1
1976 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 312T Ferrari flat-12 BRA
1
RSA
1
USW
2
2nd 68
Ferrari 312T2 Ferrari flat-12 ESP
2
BEL
1
MON
1
SWE
3
FRA
Ret
GBR
1
GER
Ret
AUT
Inj
NED
Inj
ITA
4
CAN
8
USA
3
JPN
Ret
1977 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 312T2 Ferrari flat-12 ARG
Ret
BRA
3
RSA
1
USW
2
ESP
DNS
MON
2
BEL
2
SWE
Ret
FRA
5
GBR
2
GER
1
AUT
2
NED
1
ITA
2
USA
4
CAN JPN 1st 72
1978 Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT45C Alfa Romeo flat-12 ARG
2
BRA
3
4th 44
Brabham BT46 Alfa Romeo flat-12 RSA
Ret
USW
Ret
MON
2
BEL
Ret
ESP
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
2
GER
Ret
AUT
Ret
NED
3
ITA
1
USA
Ret
CAN
Ret
Brabham BT46B Alfa Romeo flat-12 SWE
1
1979 Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT48 Alfa Romeo V12 ARG
Ret
BRA
Ret
RSA
6
USW
Ret
ESP
Ret
BEL
Ret
MON
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
AUT
Ret
NED
Ret
ITA
4
14th 4
Brabham BT49 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 CAN
DNP
USA
1982 Marlboro McLaren International McLaren MP4B Ford Cosworth DFV V8 RSA
4
BRA
Ret
USW
1
SMR
BEL
DSQ
MON
Ret
DET
Ret
CAN
Ret
NED
4
GBR
1
FRA
8
GER
DNS
AUT
5
SUI
3
ITA
Ret
CPL
Ret
5th 30
1983 Marlboro McLaren International McLaren MP4/1C Ford Cosworth DFV V8 BRA
3
USW
2
FRA
Ret
SMR
Ret
MON
DNQ
BEL
Ret
DET
Ret
CAN
Ret
GBR
6
GER
DSQ
AUT
6
10th 12
McLaren MP4/1E TAG V6t NED
Ret
ITA
Ret
EUR
Ret
RSA
11
1984 Marlboro McLaren International McLaren MP4/2 TAG V6t BRA
Ret
RSA
1
BEL
Ret
SMR
Ret
FRA
1
MON
Ret
CAN
2
DET
Ret
DAL
9
GBR
1
GER
2
AUT
1
NED
2
ITA
1
EUR
4
POR
2
1st 72
1985 Marlboro McLaren International McLaren MP4/2B TAG V6t BRA
Ret
POR
Ret
SMR
4
MON
Ret
CAN
Ret
DET
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
5
AUT
Ret
NED
1
ITA
Ret
BEL
PO
EUR
Inj
RSA
Ret
AUS
Ret
10th 14

References

  1. Lang, Mike (1983). Grand Prix! Vol 3. Haynes Publishing Group. pp. 137. ISBN 0-85429-380-9. 
  2. Zapelloni, Umberto. Formula Ferrari. Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 17. ISBN 0-340-83471-4. 
  3. Lauda, Niki (1987). To Hell And Back. London: Corgi Books. ISBN 0 552 99294 1. 
  4. "Kinser, Mansell, Garlits, Lauda, and Muldowney set high standards". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/racing/columns/story?columnist=blount_terry&id=3400774. Retrieved on 19 May 2008. 

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Franz Klammer
Austrian Sportsman of the year
1977
Succeeded by
Sepp Walcher
Preceded by
Nelson Piquet
Autosport
International Racing Driver Award

1984
Succeeded by
Alain Prost
Sporting positions
Preceded by
James Hunt
BRDC International Trophy winner
1975
Succeeded by
James Hunt
Preceded by
Emerson Fittipaldi
Formula One World Champion
1975
Succeeded by
James Hunt
Preceded by
James Hunt
Formula One World Champion
1977
Succeeded by
Mario Andretti
Preceded by
None
Procar BMW M1 Champion
1979
Succeeded by
Nelson Piquet
Preceded by
Nelson Piquet
Formula One World Champion
1984
Succeeded by
Alain Prost


Persondata
NAME Lauda, Niki
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Lauda, Andreas Nikolaus "Niki"
SHORT DESCRIPTION Austrian aviator, entrepreneur, former Formula One (F1) racing driver and three-time F1 World Champion
DATE OF BIRTH February 22, 1949
PLACE OF BIRTH Vienna
DATE OF DEATH
PLACE OF DEATH