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The Sports Lowdown’s Greatest Formula One Drivers of all time No.8 – Niki Lauda

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Formula One has been blessed with some truly outstanding drivers in the past, and whilst they should all be respected in their own right as world champions – many of whom have won multiple titles – it is human nature to try and compare drivers of different generations.  Here at ‘The Sports Lowdown’ our chief Formula One writers Dan Culyer and Ben Boorman attempt to do just that. In a daily countdown, they will formulate a list of the greatest drivers – past and present – in an attempt to decipher who is the greatest the sport has ever seen.

Whether it is Senna; or Schumacher; or Prost; or Hamilton; or Clark; or Stewart; or Vettel – be sure to keep an eye on proceedings at The Sports Lowdown, and as usual we would love to hear your views on our list, so any comments would be greatly appreciated. 

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No. 8 – Niki Lauda

Lauda is perhaps best remembered for his famous accident in 1976 at the Nurburgring, Germany, which very nearly put an end to his career.  But it was in this face of adversity that Lauda’s greatest attribute shone through: his steely eyed determination. He fought back, and was racing only a couple of weeks afterwards, and that speaks volumes over Lauda’s racing attitude.

Lauda is highly regarded as one of the most intelligent racers to have ever lived, and is often seen as the calculating pragmatist, in comparison to his more erratic and play-boy rival, James Hunt. Both drivers embarked on a fascinating rivalry in the 1976 season, which saw Hunt win the title by one point, after Lauda had raced with an air of caution in the final race, allowing Hunt to seize the victory, and with it, the Championship. Unlike Hunt however, the Austrian was back the following season and won his second world title in dominant fashion, before winning his third and final world title  in 1984.

Whilst Senna epitomises the out-and-out racer, Lauda portrays the opposite. He preferred to play the percentage game, and with his incredible knowledge of a car’s aerodynamics, he was able to tactically plot his way to the title, whilst some of his rivals would see only the individual race win. His statistics portray him as a complete driver, with 24 pole positions, 25 race wins and 54 podiums. Whilst these statistics do not necessarily resonate as particularly outstanding along with the achievements of Senna and Schumacher, he still averaged out 5 or 6 race wins a season consisting of 13-14 races. These statistics encapsulate the nature of Lauda’s driving – he was not hugely quick, but was instead consistent, and in a Championship battle that can be one’s best attribute.

Now Non-Executive Chairman of Merceded AMG Petronas, Lauda is renown for his no-nonsense attitude to racing, and Mercedes’ allowing Hamilton and Rosberg to go head to head in races, is largely down to Lauda’s bright racing spirit.

So, yes, whilst Lauda will be remembered for his horrific accident, he will also be remembered as one of the most accomplished racing drivers of all time, and his determination and dedication to his craft is unparalleled. He undoubtedly goes down in history as a formula one legend!

Thank you for reading this article. Leave comments below.


Tomorrow: Number 7 – ?

Formula One Niki Lauda Racing

About Dan Culyer

I am a 17 year-old sport fanatic - particularly when it comes to football, formula one, tennis and swimming/ water polo! I am a part-time sports journalist, as well as a fully qualified football referee! I particularly enjoy doing in-depth opinion pieces, with detailed analysis of players, teams and tournaments!

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