Niki Lauda – Great F1 driver
My F1 fine art Original oil painting portrait of Niki Lauda during his Ferrari days. Oil on linen 60cm x 80cm and 100 limited edition A2 prints of the iconic 1970’s F1 World Champion racing driver Niki Lauda, rival and friend of James Hunt for many years.
The great Niki Lauda – F1 Driver
Many people ask who is Niki Lauda? Niki Lauda, was born Andreas Nikolaus Lauda, on February 22, 1949, in Vienna, Austria. Niki Lauda with Ferrari won three Formula One (F1) Grand Prix world championships (1975, 1977, and 1984), during his career – the last two of which came after his remarkable comeback from a horrific crash in 1976 that had left him severely burned and close to death.
Niki’s family had a wealthy paper-manufacturing factory and disapproved of his interest in racing. Never the less, undaunted, he began racing Minis in 1968, moving on to Formula Vee and later Formula. He managed in 1971 to secure a loan (using his life insurance policy) to buy his way into a driving seat of the March Engineering Formula Two team. While still primarily a Formula Two driver, Lauda started in his first F1 race during his initial season with March, and in 1972 he competed in twelve Formula One races.
In the 1973 F1 season Niki raced as a member of the British Racing Motors team. In 1974 Niki signed with the prestigious Scuderia Ferrari team getting his first career F1 win. In 1975 Niki managed to get five wining podium positions enabling him to capture his first world championship.
The 1976 racing season is one of the most writyten about in F1 history. After 9 nine races,Niki had managed 5 race victories and more than twice as many points in the championship standings as his closest competitor. Niki also tried to get the other drivers to agree to a boycott of the 10th race of the season -The German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. This was because of safety concerns about racing through the Eifel Mountains. In the end he was outvoted and the race went ahead. During the second lap, Lauda lost control of his car and slammed into an embankment, the car burst into flames, and Lauda was pulled from the wreckage, having been badly burned and inhaling noxious gasses.
He sustained severe burns that cost him his eyelids, half of an ear, and large portions of his scalp but amazingly was alive. Later during treatment he lapsed into a coma and was administered last rites by a priest, but through persiverance and strong will Niki returned to racing after missing just two events. Britain’s James Hunt had won the German Grand Prix, plus 1 more contest in Lauda’s absence, and as a result James and Lauda entered into an epic battle for the 1976 title. James was just three points behind Lauda heading into the final event – The Japanese Grand Prix. Heavy rains on the day of the race led Lauda to withdraw because of safety concerns, and Hunt finished in third place to capture the championship by just one point!
Lauda managed to win 3 races and finished 2nd six times in 1977 thus going on to win another world championship. Sadly, his relationship with the Scuderia was strained by his decision to withdraw from the previous Japanese Grand Prix and—having already clinched the Formula One Championship —he, in protest of his treatment from Ferrari, stopped racing for the team with two events remaining in 1977.
Niki joined the Brabham team for the 1978 F1 season, but, after winning just two races across 2 seasons because of the inferior cars he was given, Nikii decided to retire from F1 racing in September 1979. This allowed him to focus on his other passion – flying. Niki had formed Lauda Air, earlier in the year. After a short sabatical Lauda was tempted back into Formula 1 racing in 1982 when McLaren offered him what was then the most lucrative driver contract in F1 history.
After finishing 5th and 10th in the F1 championship in 1982 and 1983, respectively, Niki managed 5 GP wins in 1984 going on to win his third career world championship by a half-point margin!
He retired from Formula 1 in 1985. After his retirement, he stayed within the sport and served in various executive capacities for a number of racing teams, was a television racing analyst, and managed to found yet another airline.
The rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt during the 1976 F1 season was the basis of Ron Howard’s film Rush (2013).
About the artist
Martin Allen is a London based artist. Martin came to oil painting through a circuitous route, having drawn for most of his life and being largely self-taught he was eventually re-introduced to oil painting as a preferred medium to create his varied and diverse work. The methods he uses to paint are classic ones, using layered paint applications rounded off by oil glazes. These create, add depth and harmonise colours. He has shown solo numerous times at Goodwood, The Affordable Art Fair and others, been a finalist at the ‘London art Biennale 2019’, alongside various commissions including work for the BP Shipping collection.