niki lauder funeral

The three-time world champion, best remembered for his comeback from a fiery crash in 1976, died last week aged 70.

Stars of Formula 1 have joined thousands of mourners in Vienna to pay their last respects to motor racing legend Niki Lauda.

Family, friends and fans gathered at the city’s St Stephen’s Cathedral to file solemnly past the coffin of the three-time world champion, topped with his red crash helmet.

Former British Formula 1 racing driver David Coulthard also paid his respects
Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton – who raced to victory in the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday in a helmet bearing Lauda’s colours and name – was among the congregation.

Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger and the country’s president Alexander Van der Bellen also attended the service, which will be followed by a private funeral.

Lauda died last week, aged 70, less than a year after undergoing a lung transplant.

Austrian-born Hollywood star and activist Arnold Schwarzenegger was among the mourners
Toni Faber, the cathedral’s priest who was to give the sermon, said: “He was an unpretentious, humble, shining star among the racing drivers.”
Mourner Marion Hahn said. “He was Niki, he is our national hero, our icon.

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“I have never done anything like this, to stand in line for someone for this long but I hope he rests in peace. He deserves it.”

Lauda won his first F1 championship in 1975, and was on course to retain his title the following year until a horrific near-fatal crash at Germany’s notorious Nurburgring, just a week after he urged fellow drivers to boycott the race over safety concerns.

McLaren, Ferrari and former F1 champion Jenson Button are among those hailing the ‘true legend’

He suffered severe burns to his head and face and suffered lung damage from inhaling toxic gases when his Ferrari burst into flames.

He made a miraculous recovery, missing just two races before his comeback, and finished second in the championship to Britain’s James Hunt.

He went on to become a leading figure in the aviation industry after retiring as a driver in 1985, but remained closely involved with F1

In recent years he served as a non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team and formed a close bond with driver Lewis Hamilton.

Lauda is survived by his second wife Birgit, and his children, Max, Mia, Mathias, Lukas and Christoph.

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