Fans and drivers remember F1 legend Niki Lauda at funeral


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Hundreds of racing fans have queued in the rain to pay tribute at the funeral of Formula One legend Niki Lauda, who died aged 70.

The three-time world champion died in Zurich last Tuesday after a long stint in hospital.

Lauda was laid to rest with full state honours at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in his home city of Vienna, Austria with world champion Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff among those in attendance.

Members of Lauda’s family accompanied pallbearers carrying his remains into the gothic cathedral in the morning before hundreds of fans who had queued for more than an hour in Vienna were allowed to file past his coffin.

Lauda’s wife Birgit and two of his sons had placed a red and white helmet on top of his casket, which was flanked by candles and floral wreaths in the centre of the cathedral.

“He was Niki, he is our national hero, our icon,” mourner Marion Hahn said. “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.”

A closed requiem mass then took place with five-time world champion Hamilton — who raced to victory in the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday in a helmet bearing Lauda’s colours and name — due to join the congregation.

Austrian racing icon Gerhard Berger was also expected among the roughly 500 mourners honouring the F1 icon, while Lauda’s former McLaren teammate Alain Prost was due to give a reading at the ceremony.

Austria’s president Alexander Van der Bellen and recently ousted chancellor Sebastian Kurz gave short speeches at the end of the service.

Lauda won the world championship in 1975 and 1977 with McLaren and went on to win a third title with Ferrari in 1984, becoming the first and only driver to achieve the feat with both leading teams.

But he is mainly remembered for making a remarkable and quick comeback from a horrific crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix which left him with serious burns and life-changing injuries.

Lauda battled health problems throughout his life as a result of the crash, twice undergoing kidney transplants in 1997 and 2005.

In August 2018, he underwent a lung transplant after a serious lung illness. Lauda was survived by his second wife, Birgit, and their twin children Max and Mia. He had two adult sons, Lukas and Mathias, from his first marriage.

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