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Niki Lauda – A man who was burning for an entire minute

Niki Lauda is dead. The tragic news that this seventy-year-old man has passed away and he has thus entered into the legend, despite the fact that many of the nowadays Formula-1 lovers have never seen him driving.


He had a very fruitful life and a rich career as a driver which lasted for the entire 17 years, i.e. from 1969 to 1985. He used to drive for Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren and for some other teams as well. He was the winner of 25 races and this all resulted in him being the winner of F1 in 1975, 1977 and 1984. It should be mentioned that there are five drivers in the history of F1 who have won more trophies than him, Michael Schumacher is the first one with seven trophies he won from 1994 until 2004.

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This is the year for which Lauda is most remembered for. Namely, he was driving in Nürburgring, Germany, as a man who was an active champion of F1 and a man who has already won five races in the current season. The track was 20km long and he was driving for Ferrari then. The track was a bit slippery and there was rain and all this resulted in Lauda to go off the track. His unit rolled over, went through the protective fence, and this all caused his protective helmet to fall off his head. This was the moment when he crashed with another protective fence which makes him be on the track. This was the moment when several other units crashed with him. The sparkles started a fire and the cockpit was burning.

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He was burning for an entire minute, both him and his unit. This was the time when three other drivers succeeded to take him out of the fire. There was not any medical help nearby, this was the time when the choppers were not so common and present everywhere. The help came from his rivals, i.e. other drivers, however, even they thought that it was late for any intervention.

The consequences crash

He had severe burns all over his face, part of the head and hands. He also had a concussion and he also has fractures on several places. His right ear was almost entirely burnt. On top of all this, the smoke filled his lungs. He arrived in hospital in a coma and it was thought that he would not survive. When the priest came to visit him in hospital, and this gave Lauda strength to survive and not to give up. He underwent a series of different surgeries, and a lot of them were needed since he lost a part of his ear, eyebrows, hair, and eyelashes. He did it. And the only change was a hat he started to wear in order not to make people uncomfortable about his scars.

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The comeback

He never gave up and he succeeded to come back to racing only 40 days after the tragic accident. He even took the fourth place there.

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Ricardo is a freelance writer specialized in politics. He is with from the beginning and helps it grow. Email: richardorland4[at]