Just in time for the Christmas market EVRO have released Niki Lauda, His Competition History by Jon Saltinstall. Although the story of the Austrian triple Formula One World Champion will alway be dominated by the crash at the Nurburgring in 1976 and its aftermath, this book looks beyond that to take in Lauda’s full career behind the wheel, from his very first races in local events to his final - and second - retirement.
While the saga of that 1976, and the battle with James Hunt for the World Championship, has been told many times, the rest of Lauda’s racing has received less attention. The book contains a detailed dissection of each of his 316 races, in an eclectic mix of cars, a vivid picture emerges of a hugely determined and vastly talented racer who, despite many setbacks, left a remarkable legacy.
- Climbing the ladder: starting against his family’s wishes with a Mini in 1968, Lauda drove a Formula Vee Kaimann in 1969 and had a disastrous Formula 3 season with McNamara in 1970 before switching to a Porsche sports car; with progress stalling, he took out a loan to buy a Formula 2 seat at March in 1971.
- Faltering in Formula 1: he débuted with March at the 1971 Austrian Grand Prix, then stayed with the team in 1972; he moved to BRM for 1973, still paying his way with further borrowing and some income from racing touring cars — but in all this time he had only one points-scoring Formula 1 finish.
- The Ferrari years: finally Lauda fulfilled his promise after receiving the call to Maranello, winning the World Championship twice in his four years there, in 1975 and 1977, but he left after tensions with the team arose in his final season.
- The Brabham years: Lauda famously won the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix in Brabham’s ‘fan car’, but thereafter the team’s competitiveness declined and he retired at the end of 1979, tired of ‘driving round in circles’ and focused instead on his new airline, Lauda Air.
- The McLaren comeback: tempted by a salary of unprecedented size, Lauda returned in 1982 after a two-year absence, silenced doubters by winning his third race, and in 1984 secured his third World Championship; at the end of 1985, with a career tally of 25 Grand Prix victories, he hung up his helmet for good.
Jon Saltinstall grew up near Donington Park, where he witnessed his first motor race at the age of 12 after winning tickets in a local newspaper competition. Already fascinated by the sport and its history, he obsessively pursued his interest while following a career in banking. His admiration for Niki Lauda led him to embark on this book, his first, and after nine years, in 2019, he completed it a matter of weeks before his subject’s death.
Format: 280x235mm hardback
Pages: 376, Illustration: 500 photos, mainly colour
UK price: £60.00
Published 28th November 2019