40 Facts About Niki Lauda You Should Know

Niki Lauda was a Formula 1 driver famous for his immense driving abilities and incredible story within the sport. The Austrian driver was incredibly fast on track, and won championships with multiple different teams, and we take a look at all of this and more Niki Lauda facts below.

1. When Was Niki Lauda Born?

Niki Lauda was born on the 22nd of February 1949. Lauda was born in Vienna, the capital of Austria. He was born into a wealthy family that had a prominent business and banking dynasty. He spent his early life in Austria before he started racing.

2. Where Did Niki Lauda Go To School?

It’s unclear where Niki Lauda went to school, but with his family being established in Austria, he spent much of his younger years in and around Vienna. It’s only fair to assume that he went to school somewhere in the capital city of Austria.

3. Niki Lauda Height & Weight

Niki Lauda was 178 centimeters (5’10”) tall. The Austrian weighed in at just 70 kilograms (154 lbs), which is a normal weight for Formula 1 drivers. He might have had a small stature, but it was perfect for the confined cockpits of the older F1 cars.

4. Was Niki Lauda Left Handed?

Niki Lauda was not left handed, as he always used his right hand when writing and signing autographs.

5. How Many Languages Did Niki Lauda Speak?

Niki Lauda was fluent in Austrian, English and Italian. During his time spent at Ferrari, he picked up Italian, like many other Ferrari drivers over the years.

6. When Did Niki Lauda Start Racing?

Niki Lauda started racing Minis in 1968. He spent the next few years racing in Formula Vee and Formula Three. His family disapproved of his racing career, so he supported his racing career with bank loans.

7. What Was Niki Lauda’s Racing Number?

Niki Lauda did not have a specific racing number. Lauda used the number 12 in his famous 1976 season, and also raced with the number one on his car following his World Championship victories. Drivers could not choose their racing numbers when Niki Lauda was active in F1.

8. When Did Niki Lauda Join F1?

Niki Lauda joined Formula 1 in 1972 with the March team. However, the team was extremely uncompetitive, and Lauda was unable to prove himself in the sport. He moved to BRM shortly afterward, before joining Ferrari in 1974.

9. Who Did Niki Lauda Race For?

Niki Lauda raced for 5 F1 teams during his career. His F1 journey started with March, then progressed to BRM, and eventually led him to Ferrari. Lauda then raced with Brabham before retiring and returning to race with McLaren in the 1980s.

10. Was Niki Lauda A Good Driver?

Niki Lauda was an excellent driver. Having won 3 World Championships during some of Formula 1’s most dangerous eras, Lauda proved to be a driver that was skilled in the cockpit, and in setting up his cars for maximum performance during the race weekend.

11. How Good Was Niki Lauda?

Niki Lauda was an incredible driver who had a remarkable career. In just 175 race starts, the Austrian won 25 races and 3 World Championships. He is ranked seventh in drivers with the most World Championships to their name.

12. Was Niki Lauda The Best?

Niki Lauda was a great driver, but he was not the best in the history of the sport. Statistically, there are several drivers that are ahead of Lauda in the rankings, including Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, and Lewis Hamilton. However, he is still a legend of the sport.

13. Was Niki Lauda A Pay Driver?

Niki Lauda started off as a pay driver. Lauda used to borrow money from Austrian banks to pay teams for his race seat. It was highly controversial when he bought his way into a Formula 1 team using money from a loan, but he’s one of the most successful pay drivers in the sport’s history.

14. Who Was Better Niki Lauda Or James Hunt?

Both Niki Lauda and James Hunt were incredible drivers. Statistically, Lauda was the better driver as he won 3 World Championships compared to Hunt’s single title. Niki Lauda also has 15 victories more than James Hunt.

15. What Happened Between Niki Lauda & James Hunt?

Niki Lauda and James Hunt had a long rivalry that sparked during their time in the junior racing series. The two were fierce rivals on track, but they were much closer friends off the track than many perceived them to be.

16. Where Did Niki Lauda Crash?

Niki Lauda crashed at the 1976 German Grand Prix that took place at the Nurburgring. The Austrian was trapped inside his Ferrari as it caught fire, which led to severe burns scarring his face.

17. Why Did Niki Lauda Crash At The Nurburgring?

While many believe that it was a mechanical failure that caused Niki Lauda to crash in Germany, it was in fact a mistake that the Austrian made. Lauda overcorrected the car and crashed into the barriers at the Nurburgring, leading to the car going on fire.

18. How Long Was Niki Lauda In The Burning Car?

Niki Lauda was trapped inside the burning car for nearly a minute (50-55 seconds are the reported numbers). The Austrian was completely engulfed in flames before some of his fellow drivers managed to free him from the wreckage and drag him away from the flames.

19. Did Niki Lauda Drive After His Accident?

Niki Lauda made a miraculous recovery following his fiery crash and was back in the race seat driving his car after just six weeks. Niki Lauda was a determined driver, and he loved racing, which meant he got back into the cockpit as soon as he could.

20. How Many Races Did Niki Lauda Miss?

Niki Lauda missed just 2 races following his terrifying crash at the Nurburgring. The Austrian driver showed up at the Italian Grand Prix six weeks after the crash, with fresh burns and bandages on his face, but he was ready to race again.

21. Why Did Niki Lauda Stop In Japan?

Niki Lauda’s injuries left him unable to blink, causing his eyes to burn and stream water excessively, especially with sweat dripping down his forehead. This, along with the inclement weather at the Japanese Grand Prix, caused Lauda to pull out of the race at Fuji.

22. When Did Niki Lauda Stop Racing?

Niki Lauda’s last Formula 1 race was in 1985 after achieving great success in the sport. Lauda took some time away from Formula 1 after the 1979 season, but was lured back into racing in 1982 by McLaren, who offered him one of the most lucrative contracts in the history of the sport at the time.

23. Why Did Niki Lauda Retire?

Niki Lauda retired in 1979 as he lost the desire for racing, but returned to the sport in 1982. Niki Lauda retired for good at the end of the 1985 season. While he might have stopped racing, he never truly left the paddock, and was always a common sight at most races. 

24. How Many Championships Did Niki Lauda Win?

Niki Lauda won 3 World Championships throughout his career. The Austrian won two championships with Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, and then won his third World Championship with McLaren in 1984.

25. Why Did Niki Lauda Go To Mercedes?

Niki Lauda owned 10% of the Mercedes team, but from the team’s perspective, he also added depth to their experienced management structure. Lauda’s knowledge and experience in the sport was a great asset to the team that helped propel them to success from the 2014 season onwards.

26. What Did Niki Lauda Do At Mercedes?

Niki Lauda was the non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team from September of 2012. He made several important decisions, and would provide advice to team principal Toto Wolff. Lauda could utilize both the driver’s and the team’s perspective, which provided helpful insight for Mercedes.

27. Did Niki Lauda Bring Lewis Hamilton To Mercedes?

Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton both admitted that Niki Lauda played a pivotal role in bringing the British driver to the Mercedes team. Lauda was the first person to speak with Hamilton in an attempt to get the Brit to sign for Mercedes back in 2012, with him joining Mercedes for the 2013 season.

28. Did Niki Lauda Own An Airline?

Niki Lauda owned the Lauda Air Luftfahrt GmbH airline, branded as Lauda Air. Niki Lauda also had an airline named Niki, which merged with Air Berlin in 2011, and he took over a charter plane company providing private flights.

29. Is Lauda Air Still In Business?

Lauda Air ceased operations in 2013 when it merged with Austrian Airlines. However, there are still some Lauda Air liveries used by Austrian Airlines aircraft. All the aircraft that belonged to Lauda Air were sold to Austrian Airlines in the merger.

30. How Much Did Niki Lauda Earn In F1?

It’s unclear exactly how much Niki Lauda earned during his time in F1, but his Brabham contract was worth $1 million per year ($4 million today), and his McLaren contract was worth $3 million per year ($12 million in today’s money). There are no records of his earnings from Ferrari.

31. Niki Lauda Net Worth

Niki Lauda’s net worth was estimated to be around $200 million. His earnings came from his Formula 1 career, his businesses (including the airlines), as well as his investments in the Mercedes F1 team.

32. Why Did Niki Lauda Wear A Red Hat?

Niki Lauda always wore his red cap to hide the scars that were left from his horrific crash at the Nurburgring in 1976. However, he monetized the cap by selling it as sponsorship space, held by Parmalat for several years before selling to Viessmann and Oerlikon.

33. Was Niki Lauda A Good Person?

Niki Lauda was a good person, despite the bad reputation he often had for being rude. The Austrian racer was very kind hearted and always cared for his fellow racing drivers. Lauda was always advocating for driver safety in the sport.

34. How Many Years Did Niki Lauda Race?

Niki Lauda raced for 15 years in total including his junior motorsport career. He spent a total of 11 years racing in Formula 1, taking a short break between 1979 and 1982. Lauda technically retired from the sport, but was lured back by McLaren.

35. How Many Grands Prix Did Niki Lauda Win?

Niki Lauda won a total of 25 Grands Prix, which puts him 11th in the list of most races won in the history of the sport. He holds a win percentage of 14.62% with his 171 race starts. 

36. Did Niki Lauda Race In The Indy 500?

Niki Lauda never raced in IndyCar or the Indy 500. However, he spent some time racing Formula 1 cars in the United States, and won the hearts of many fans and drivers in the US despite not being an IndyCar driver.

37. Did Niki Lauda Race Senna?

Ayrton Senna and Niki Lauda raced against one another in 1984 and 1985. However, as Senna was at the start of his career, he was not battling with Lauda very often. At the 1985 Dutch Grand Prix, Lauda’s final F1 victory, Senna finished in third place, and they shared the podium with Alain Prost.

38. Did Niki Lauda Race Le Mans?

Niki Lauda never raced in Le Mans as he was fully focused on Formula 1. The Austrian did not have an interest in racing in Le Mans, even after retiring from F1.

39. What Did Niki Lauda Die From?

Niki Lauda passed away on the 20th of May 2019. While the exact cause of death was never specified, Lauda had undergone a lung transplant just eight months prior, suffering from severe lung illness caused by smoke inhalation from his crash in 1976.

40. What Is Lauda Drive?

On the 30th of November 2022 Toto Wolff announced that Mercedes had renamed the road that leads to their technology campus in Brackley in honor of the three time World Champion and team ambassador Niki Lauda. 

Final Thoughts

Niki Lauda is one of the most famous names in Formula 1 – and for good reason. He won multiple titles with different teams, and he was one of the fiercest competitors on the track. Despite his fiery crash in 1976, he fought back and became a true legend of the sport, continuing to be involved until his death in 2019.