VIENNA (AP) — Family, friends and fans gathered Wednesday at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna for a last farewell to Formula One great Niki Lauda.
The wooden coffin of the three-time champion was decorated with his red racing helmet and surrounded by six white candles and rose wreaths with two large portraits of Lauda behind it. The Austrian died on May 20 at the age of 70, less than a year after undergoing a lung transplant.
Lauda, who won two of his Formula One titles after a horrific crash in which he suffered serious burns, later became a prominent figure in the aviation industry and in recent years served as a non-executive chairman of the Mercedes F1 team.
Before the beginning of the service, hundreds of fans solemnly walked by the coffin, many of them crossing themselves and taking cell phone photos.
“He was an unpretentious, humble, shining star among the racing drivers,” Toni Faber, the cathedral’s priest who was to give the sermon for Lauda, told Austrian news agency APA before the service. “He had a sense of humor, was true-to-life, target-oriented and no-nonsense.”
Lauda won the F1 title in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari and again in 1984 with McLaren.
In 1976, he was badly burned when he crashed during the German Grand Prix, but he made an astonishingly fast return to racing only six weeks later.
Lauda remained closely involved with the F1 circuit after retiring as a driver in 1985.
Several Formula One stars were expected to attend the service along with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season
“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.
“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”
Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something
we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”