Niki Lauda. Source: FIA

Niki Lauda was an Austrian former Formula One racing champion. He was an immensely talented racer. He died in May 2019. He was receiving kidney dialysis at the University Hospital of Zürich. He died in his sleep at the age of 70.

Early life

Andreas Nikolaus Lauda was born on February 22, 1949, in Vienna, Austria. His paternal grandfather Hans Lauda, co-founded the Federation of Austrian Industries in the 1940s.

Lauda’s family did not approve of him pursuing a career in racing. As a result, he evenutally cut ties with them.

Career

Lauda began racing in the late 1960s. He first drove a Mini and then switched on to Formula Vee. After that, he moved on to private Chevrons and Porsches.

Lauda took out a bank loan in 1971 to buy his way into the Formula Two circuit, and he was quickly promoted to the Formula One team. In 1973, he borrowed money from a bank once more to join the British Racing Motors (BRM) team.

When Niki competed in that year’s Monaco Grand Prix, he piqued Enzo Ferrari’s interest, and he joined the Ferrari team in 1974. Lauda finished second in his first race for Ferrari, the Argentine Grand Prix, and won the Spanish Grand Prix the following year.

Source: Daily Express

Lauda’s car swerved off the track and caught fire after hitting an embankment during the 1976 German Grand Prix. His head was severely burned and his lungs and blood were damaged as a result of inhaling hot toxic gases.

Niki was conscious immediately after the accident, but he went into a coma after being taken to the hospital. Lauda miraculously survived his injuries. Six weeks after the horrific crash, he returned to racing and finished fourth in the Italian Grand Prix.

Lauda announced his retirement from racing at the end of the 1985 season. After retiring, he took non-racing roles with several Formula One teams, including a consulting role with the Ferrari team in 1993 and a non-executive chairman role with the Mercedes AMG Petronas team in 2012.

Lauda was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993. He was also honoured with a stamp by the Austrian post office in 2005.

Source: Daily Star

Earnings

When Lauda signed with Brabham-Alfa Romeo in 1978, he received a one-million-dollar annual salary. After adjusting for inflation, that equates to around $4 million today. After a brief retirement, he returned to racing with McLaren in 1982. His McLaren contract paid $3 million per year, which is equivalent to $12 million per year today.

Niki founded Lauda Air, a private airline, in 1979. In 1999, he sold the airline to Austrian Airlines, and in 2003, he founded Niki, which merged with Air Berlin in 2011. LaudaMotion was founded in 2016 after Lauda purchased Amira Air, a charter airline. Niki had a pilot’s license and flew planes until he was in his 60s.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Lauda’s net worth is estimated to be $200 million as of 2021.

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