Niki Lauda is one of the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time. He happens to be the only driver who was the champion of two of the most successful constructors in the sport, McLaren and Ferrari. In 1979, he survived a fatal collision with death with his Ferrari in the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Since then he has won the F1 drivers’ world champion three times in his career. Since retiring from the sport, he has successfully founded and managed three airlines (Laudamotion, Lauda Air, and Niki). He also works on Grand Prix weekends as an expert for German television. More interesting facts about career and family can be found below.
Niki Lauda – Biography, Age
Nikolaus “Niki” Lauda was born on February 22, 1949, in Vienna, Austria. Interestingly, he was born into a wealthy family. Due to his social status at birth, his dream of becoming a racing driver was not supported by his family, yet he pursued a career in racing regardless. Normally the racing drivers in Central Europe start with the Mini, which he also drove before he entered Formula V. Later Niki became a driver of Chevron sports cars and private Porsches. In this process, his career seemed to slow down because he did not achieve the desired result he had initially imagined. He then decided to take out a £30,000 bank loan, which he was able to enforce through a life insurance policy.
He could have easily obtained this loan from his family, but due to the fact that he had problems with them regarding his chosen career, he had to find another financing. The loan enabled Niki Lauda to buy a place in the young March team as a Formula 2 driver (F2) in 1971.
Ferrari And Near-Death Experience
In 1972 he was promoted to the F1 team, where he drove in the F1 and F2 in March. In 1974 he was recommended to Enzo Ferrari (the owner of the Ferrari team) by his former teammate Clay Ragazzoni. This high recommendation caused Ferrari to quickly sign Niki Lauda, which in turn helped him to pay off all his previous debts. In his debut race for Ferrari in the Argentinean Grand Prix, he finished second. Three races later, at the Spanish Grand Prix, he won the race. This would be his very first victory and the first for Ferrari since 1972.
In 1995, he won his first championship victory with a third-place at the Italian Grand Prix in Monz. It was almost tragic on August 1, 1976, when he was involved in an accident at the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. His car went up in flames after colliding with an embankment off the track. As he was trapped in the debris, he inhaled toxic fumes and suffered severe burns to his head before being pulled out. The incident left severe burns on the right side of his hair and ear. As a result, he always wears a cap in his public appearances and has taken advantage of this by wearing branded caps from companies that support him over the years.
Fortunately, the bloody accident did not lead to the end of his career, as he was back on track only six months after minor reconstructive surgery. He would then win his second title in the drivers’ championship at the United States Grand Prix. After many years of a successful career, he decided to retire in 1979 and founded his first airline, Lauda Air. He later returned to racing in 1982 and won his last championship title in 1984, winning a total of three championship titles.
Personal Life – Wife And Children
Apart from his career as an athlete, Niki Lauda is also a family man. In the first years of his career, Niki Lauda married his first wife, Marlene Knaus. Together they took in two sons named Mathias Lauda and Lukas Lauda. In the course of the marriage, Lauda cheated on Marlene, and out of this extramarital affair, a son named Christoph Lauda emerged. Unfortunately, this led to their separation, as their divorce was finalized in 1991 after fifteen years of marriage. He would marry again later, but not before 2008, this time marrying his former flight attendant Birgit Wetzinger, a woman who is also 30 years younger than himself. The following year, in September, Birgit gave birth to twins, a boy named Max and a girl named Mia.
When Niki Lauda was ill and needed a new kidney transplant due to the failure of the kidney, which he had lovingly received from his brother in 1997, his wife Birgit gave up one of hers to save him. On August 2, 2018, he successfully underwent a lung transplant in his native Austria.
As with most sports, athletes are expected to be in the best of health, especially if they intend to do their best. Although some sports require certain body structures or a certain weight, others are based purely on the athletes’ abilities. In Formula 1, the skill of a racing driver is valued much more highly than the aesthetic appearance of the features. Although it does not hurt to have a large body size and a suitable body frame, which can be useful in job interviews or other sponsorship deals, skill in the sports niche is a clear requirement. Nevertheless, Niki Lauda’s talent as a rider is so great that he is tall with an average height of 5 feet 7 inches (1.7 m) and even after so many years he still maintains a healthy weight of 65 kg (143 lbs).