The accident that changed the life of Niki Lauda 43 years ago

The three-time champion was seriously wounded in his face at the 1976 German Grand Prix. He even received extreme unction.

We all went through a moment that changes our lives. And Niki Lauda was not the exception that confirms this rule. Many years ago, exactly 43, Lauda suffered one of the most serious accidents that are remembered in the history of the championship in the Grand Prix of Germany 1976. To such an extent did the injuries produced in this incident come that the Viennese received extreme unction in the hospital in Mannheim.

"The current Formula 1 can drive you to a chimpanzee" , is one of the most famous phrases that are remembered of the Austrian, who died this Monday at the age of 70 years. Because the Ferrari driver, at that time, saved his life thanks to the performance of five spectators, a policeman and the pilots Harald Ertl, Guy Edwards and Arturo Merzario. But let's put the time machine into operation.

With a total grid of 40 single-seaters, , only 25 cars managed on the qualifying day a time trial that allowed them to run on the zigzagging and winding Nürburgring track. The presence of rain on Sunday 1 August, the FIA called an emergency meeting with the pilots to determine if the race was disputed or canceled.

Niki Lauda, leader in the World Championship with 61 points ahead of the South African Jody Scheckter, pleaded for the cancellation of the grand prize due to the obvious lack of security presented by the circuit, while its historical great rival in the competition, James Hunt, defended its celebration, decision that was finally supported by the rest of participants.

Only two had been completed of the 14 laps planned for the runway located in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz when in the curve of Ber Wek, Lauda lost control of his Ferrari 312T2, violently hitting the guardrail and returning to the asphalt wrapped in a cloud of fire.

First and third degree burns on the face, several broken bones, inhalation of fuel gases affecting the Lungs was the medical part issued by physicians in southwestern Germany. Niki Lauda was still alive by miracle, but what nobody imagined is that his main concern was to get the bicampeonato with the Scuderia.

The victories of John Watson and Hunt in the Grand Prix of Australia and Holland 1976 respectively did nothing but increase the Viennese motivation to execute a painful recovery that took him 40 days later to participate in the Grand Prix of Italy 1976, leaving for eternity a praiseworthy fourth position in Monza and a totally bloodied helmet.

"For me August 1 is One day like any other, I do not stand in front of the mirror and say: 'Hurray, hurray, hurray, I'm alive!' Six months later I returned to the same level or even better, and that is only possible if one overcomes a problem The fact of recovering quickly was part of my strategy. I could not be sitting at home thinking about it, why it happened and why and me, "Lauda said about this mishap in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper a few years ago.

Oneth in Canada, a third in the United States and an abandonment in Japan, test renamed as" The betrayal of Mount Fuji "( only Niki Lauda fulfilled the agreement to complete a return to the circuit of Fuji and return to the pits due to the bad weather conditions), delayed a year the Austrian alirón with the Cavallino Rampante. A genius who will now look for that eleventh winner traveling the clouds of the sky. Rest in peace. Don Andreas Nikolaus Lauda.

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