ROME – In the mid-1970s his was the face of Formula 1 and Ferrari, from 1976 onwards the inseparable red hat with a well-trimmed visor on his forehead made Niki Lauda a sporting icon: just that year, the August 1st, only an exceptional temperament and tenacity allowed him to survive the terrible accident in Germany on the Nurburgring track.
He came out almost dead and disfigured, after the impact at 200 per hour the helmet flew away exposing his face to the flames that enveloped his Ferrari, leaving the road on the second lap and crashing into full speed on the fence: for 55 very long seconds he was trapped between the red-hot sheets, when they pulled him out the priest gave him the last rites. 42 days later he was back on track. The face is a mask that the little hat could shield, the lungs compromised (only a year ago the Austrian pilot sustained a transplant).
That year he did not win the title that went to the Englishman James Hunt: he had won the year before, he would have imposed himself again in '77 always with Ferrari. In 1984 the third title with McLaren. That first August of 1976 is an indelible part of the historical memory of the most exciting car race in the world. "The impact was so violent that the helmet took off on its own", he loved to tell, with that cold, sharp style, without concessions to emphasis or sentimentality. The same style with which he imposed himself in the race, tenacity and intelligence, no frills or numbers for the audience. Essential, as it remained until the age of 70. Who would have bet on that first August?
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Source: Blitz Quotidiano