Schwarzenegger and other stars bid farewell to F1 legend Lauda
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Stars of Formula 1 have joined thousands of mourners in Vienna to pay their last respects to motor racing legend Niki Lauda.
Family, friends and fans gathered at the city’s St Stephen’s Cathedral to file solemnly past the coffin of the three-time world champion, topped with his red crash helmet.
Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton – who raced to victory in the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday in a helmet bearing Lauda’s colours and name – was among the congregation.
Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger and the country’s president Alexander Van der Bellen also attended the service, which will be followed by a private funeral.
Lauda died last week, aged 70, less than a year after undergoing a lung transplant.
Toni Faber, the cathedral’s priest who was to give the sermon, said: “He was an unpretentious, humble, shining star among the racing drivers.”
Mourner Marion Hahn said. “He was Niki, he is our national hero, our icon.
“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.”
Lauda won his first F1 championship in 1975, and was on course to retain his title the following year until a horrific near-fatal crash at Germany’s notorious Nurburgring, just a week after he urged fellow drivers to boycott the race over safety concerns.
He suffered severe burns to his head and face and suffered lung damage from inhaling toxic gases when his Ferrari burst into flames.
He made a miraculous recovery, missing just two races before his comeback, and finished second in the championship to Britain’s James Hunt.
The legendary rivalry between the pair was later made into the 2013 film, Rush.
Lauda went on to win two further titles in 1977 with Ferrari and again in 1984 with McLaren.
He went on to become a leading figure in the aviation industry after retiring as a driver in 1985, but remained closely involved with F1
In recent years he served as a non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team and formed a close bond with driver Lewis Hamilton.
Lauda is survived by his second wife Birgit, and his children, Max, Mia, Mathias, Lukas and Christoph.