Photo Story: Final farewell to Niki Lauda

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Hundreds of mourners gathered to pay their respects to the Formula One legend Niki Lauda during his funeral today in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in his home city of Vienna.

Hundreds of fans queued in the rain for hours outside the famous church before they were allowed in to file past the coffin.

His wife Birgit and two of his sons – Mathias and Lucas – placed Lauda’s red-and-white driver’s helmet on the casket. Lauda also had three other sons from previous relationships.

Memorial service for Formula One legend Niki Lauda in Vienna
The helmet of Niki Lauda is on display on his coffin during his memorial service at Saint Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria, 29 May 2019.

Stars of Formula One past and present also attended a private Requiem Mass. Austrian-born star Arnold Schwarzenegger and two Austrian dignitaries – President Alexander Van der Bellen and recently ousted Chancellor Sebastian Kurz – were to give short speeches at the end of the service.

Memorial service for Formula One legend Niki Lauda in Vienna
Lukas Lauda (R), son of Niki Lauda, lays down his helmet, next to Birgit Lauda, widow of Niki Lauda, during a memorial service for Niki Lauda at Saint Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria.

In all, some 300 VIP guests are expected to attend the mass Wednesday, with 800 further seats and 3,000 standing places open to the general public.

The triple world champion, best remembered for his comeback from a fiery crash in 1976 that left him badly burned and scarred him for life, died last week at the age of 70.

Memorial service for Formula One legend Niki Lauda in Vienna
People wait to attend a memorial service for Niki Lauda at Saint Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria.

Besides racing, Lauda’s second passion was aviation. He founded and then sold several airlines with his latest, Laudamotion, going to Ryanair in 2018.

It is not clear where Lauda will be laid to rest. The family reportedly has turned down an offer by the city of Vienna to receive a ‘grave of honour’ in the city’s vast Central Cemetery.

Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco
A red helmet in tribute to late Formula One legend Niki Lauda is seen during a minute’s silence ahead of the 2019 Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco at the Monte Carlo circuit in Monaco, 26 May 2019.

 

Photos: EPA-EFE/MICHAEL GRUBER/

 

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