Scuderia Ferrari pay their respects to three-time Formula 1 world champion and former Ferrari driver Niki Lauda, who past away at the age of 70.
Lauda was once a Ferrari driver between 1974 to 1977, where he won two of his three world championships with the Scuderia. The Austrian won the title in 1975 and 1977, and was in contention for the 1976 championship going up against rival and fellow friend James Hunt.
The 1976 season was infamous for Hunt and Lauda’s rivalry and the will to win by the two drivers. In that same season, Lauda suffered a near-fatal accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix, where he sustained burns to his face. He remarkably came back six weeks later for the Italian Grand Prix, labeling as one of the greatest sporting comebacks ever. Lauda’s rivalry and the events of his accident in Germany were recreated in the 2013 film titled: Rush.
Lauda for a long peroid was Ferrari’s most sucessful driver, before Michael Schumacher surpassed him in titles, wins and poles with the Scuderia. Ferrari Vice President Piero Ferrari says the passing of Lauda marks a sad day for him having seen Lauda race with the Italian giants.
“This is a very sad day for me, having been fortunate to have actually seen him race and also for all fans of Ferrari and Formula 1,” commented Ferrari.
“Niki leaves us having suffered so much and that is painful for me. He won so much with Ferrari and with other teams too and he always remained a friend. He was a fantastic driver, an accomplished businessman and an amazing person. I will miss him.”
Ferrari’s current team principal Mattia Binotto joined in the tributes by Ferrari, recalling his earliest memories of the three-time champion from his childhood and when he first arrived into F1, calling Niki a ‘fearless knight’.
“My memories of Lauda go back to my childhood. When I was little I saw him and Regazzoni win for the Prancing Horse on race tracks all round the world. I was not yet ten and to me he seemed like a fearless knight,” said Binotto.
“Once I came into Formula 1, my relationship with Niki was one of mutual respect. I think that thanks to his bravura and his undoubted charisma, he helped make this great sport well known and loved all over the world. I have fond memories of him telling me that my Swiss approach was just what was needed to bring order to the very Italian Ferrari!
“That was Niki all over, straight talking and direct and even if you didn’t agree with him all the time, you couldn’t help but like him.”