Following on from Schumacher and Senna, it's time for Crash.net to campaign the latest driver in the running to be crowned the 'Best Formula One driver' in our latest poll.

Today we focus on a star of the 70s and 80s, a man who made one of the most remarkable comebacks in the sport after an accident that could well have cost him his life...Niki Lauda.

Niki Lauda may be a three-time Formula One world champion, but it is a season when he didn't taste title glory for which he is probably best remembered.

Although his time with March and BRM only saw him collect one points finish, Lauda had done enough to impress Ferrari. A first win duly arrived at the 1974 Spanish Grand Prix, but it was the 1975 campaign that propelled the Austrian to greatness, as he failed to finish just once on his way to the title.

In 1976, it looked like being much the same story, with eight podium finishes in the opening nine races creating an almost unassailable position heading to the German Grand Prix. At the Nurburgring, however, Lauda was involved in a horrific accident that left him trapped unconscious in his burning car. Only the bravery of fellow drivers Brett Lunger, Guy Edwards and Arturo Merzario prevented the Austrian perishing in the flames. After the race, he lapsed into a coma - and was even given the last rites - but amazingly, six weeks later, had not only recovered, but took fourth place in the Italian Grand Prix.

Heading into the final round at Fuji, Lauda held a three-point lead over James Hunt but, in abysmal conditions, withdrew after just two laps, saying he valued his life more than the championship. Hunt stole the title by a point.

Lauda responded by taking his second title in 1977, before he left Ferrari to join Brabham. He finished fourth in 1978 but, after retiring from ten of the opening 13 races in 1979, walked away from the sport to focus on his airline business.

Tempted out of retirement in 1982, Lauda won his third race for McLaren, but it wasn't until 1984 that he completed a momentous comeback by taking his third world title, beating Alain Prost by just half a point. However, unable to retain his crown in 1985, he retired from F1 for the second, and final, time.

Fact File:
177 races
25 victories
3 world titles (1975, 1977, 1984)

To vote for Lauda, or any of the other nine drivers, just follow the link below....

 

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