The three-time Formula 1 champion came perilously close to dying at the Nurburgring in 1976 when he crashed his Ferrari. The car burst into flames and Lauda breathed in a near-fatal amount of hot toxic fumes before he was rescued.
He was also left permanently disfigured by the severe burns he received but, incredibly, was back in action just six weeks later.
A year after the crash, he became F1 champion for a second time and topped the standings again in 1984. He is still the only driver to have won the world championship for both Ferrari and McClaren.
In such a long and distinguished career, his rivalries were inevitably strong and varied; none more so than his clashes with English driver James Hunt – a complex relationship immortalised in the 2013 film 'Rush'.
Hunt, said Lauda, was one of his small number of friends, a smaller number of people he respected and the only man he had ever envied. The feeling, you would like to think, was probably mutual.
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