Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda has died
at the age of 70.
The three-time world champion, who
underwent a lung transplant in August 2018, “passed away peacefully”
on May 20, his family announced.
“His unique achievements as an
athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest
for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain a role model and a benchmark
for all of us,” his family’s statement said.
Niki Lauda, one of the best-known
figures in motor racing, took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and
McLaren in 1984.
For many, the legendary Austrian
will be remembered for his remarkable recovery and return to racing after being
badly burned in a crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix.
A new generation of fans was
introduced to Niki Lauda in the acclaimed 2013 film Rush, which detailed his rivalry with British driver James Hunt,
the 1976 world champion.
Niki Lauda, who was born in Vienna
in February 1949, was a motor racing legend who went on to be a successful
businessman following his retirement from the sport.
However, the Austrian was probably
best-known for surviving a crash during the 1976 season which left him scarred
On August 1, 1976, one year after winning his first title, Niki Lauda
suffered third-degree burns to his head and face and inhaled toxic gases that
damaged his lungs after his vehicle burst into flames at Nurburgring.
Niki Lauda was given the last rites in hospital but made an almost miraculous
recovery and returned to racing, still bandaged, just 40 days later.
After his career as a racing driver, Niki Lauda became an airline
entrepreneur and, most recently, a non-executive chairman for the Formula 1
Mercedes team, instrumental in bringing in British driver Lewis Hamilton, who
has won five world championships.
However, ill health followed him into his later years and he underwent a
lung transplant last year.
Niki Lauda had previously had two kidney transplants, the second donated in
2005 by his then-girlfriend Birgit Wetzinger, a former flight attendant for his
airline whom he married in 2008.
In January 2019, he spent 10 days in hospital while suffering from
Niki Lauda leaves behind his wife, their twins born in 2009, and three sons from previous relationships.
Liberty Media is buying the racing business Formula 1 for $4.4 billion, the company has confirmed.
The announcement ends years of speculation about the ownership of Formula 1.
Bernie Ecclestone will remain as chief executive but Chase Carey, vice-chairman of 21st Century Fox, will become the new chairman.
Liberty Media has also stakes in several sports and entertainment businesses, including the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club.
Owned by the billionaire John Malone, Liberty Media will initially purchase a minority stake in the world’s leading motor-racing championship. A full takeover is planned if regulators approve the deal.
The total transaction values the firm at $8 billion but includes $4.1 billion worth of F1’s debt.
Liberty Media is buying the stake from the private equity firm CVC Capital.
CVC has held a stake for the past decade but sold some of its holding in 2012.
The private equity firm has been criticized for taking considerable profits from the sport, which has suffered from falling TV ratings in recent years.
“We are excited to become part of Formula 1,” said Greg Maffei, chief executive of Liberty Media.
“We think our long-term perspective and expertise with media and sports assets will allow us to be good stewards of Formula 1 and benefit fans, teams and our shareholders.”
Bernie Ecclestone said: “I would like to welcome Liberty Media and Chase Carey to Formula 1 and I look forward to working with them.”
Earlier, the 85-year-old British businessman said in an interview with Reuters that he had been asked to stay on for three years and would miss the Singapore Grand Prix on September 18 as he needed be in London for the negotiations.
Jules Bianchi has died, nine months after suffering severe head injuries in a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
The French Formula 1 driver had been in a coma since crashing his Marussia car into a recovery vehicle in wet conditions in Suzuka last October.
The 25-year-old’s family said: “Jules fought right to the very end, as he always did, but today his battle came to an end.”
Marussia, now known as Manor, said the team was “devastated”.
Jules Bianchi is the first F1 driver to die from injuries sustained in a Grand Prix since Brazilian triple world champion Ayrton Senna was killed at Italy’s Imola circuit in 1994.
He died in hospital near his parents’ home in Nice in the south of France.
His family said: “We thank Jules’s colleagues, friends, fans and everyone who has demonstrated their affection for him over these past months, which gave us great strength and helped us deal with such difficult times.
“Listening to and reading the many messages made us realise just how much Jules had touched the hearts and minds of so many people all over the world.”
Jules Bianchi made his F1 debut with Marussia in 2013 and was also a member of the Ferrari young driver academy after previously working as a test driver for the team.
The accident happened when Jules Bianchi’s car slid off the track and into a crane picking up German driver Adrian Sutil, who had crashed at the same spot one lap earlier.
A working group of the sport’s governing body, the FIA, investigated the accident and found that as Jules Bianchi went off the track into the run-off area, he “applied both throttle and brake together, using both feet” over-riding the fail-safe mechanism. His front wheels had also locked.
It also said that Jules Bianchi “did not slow sufficiently to avoid losing control”.
Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso has escaped serious injury from a heavy crash in pre-season testing.
Fernando Alonso hit the wall on the exit of the 150mph Turn Three at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, one of F1’s most demanding corners.
McLaren said results of hospital scans showed Fernando Alonso was concussed but otherwise uninjured.
Fernando Alonso’s crash happened at 12:35 local time on February 22, shortly before the lunch break on the final day of the second of three pre-season tests.
The McLaren driver was airlifted to hospital where CT and MRI scans were carried out.
McLaren – who have given no information on what caused the accident – said Fernando Alonso “left the track at Turn Three, causing the right-hand side of his car to strike the wall” on the inside of the circuit. It is unclear whether Alonso made a mistake or something broke on the car.
His team-mate Jenson Button had been scheduled to take the car over for the afternoon session, but the team decided not to run again.
Fernando Alonso is regarded within F1 as arguably the greatest driver of his generation and has won 32 races in a 13-year career, putting him sixth on the all-time list.
Michael Schumacher has left a Swiss hospital to continue his recovery at home, his manager Sabine Kehm has announced.
Sabine Kehm said in a statement that he had made “progress”, but there was “a long and difficult road ahead”.
Former F1 champion Michael Schumacher suffered a head injury in a skiing accident in France in December last year and was transferred to the Swiss hospital in June.
Michael Schumacher’s family said in June that he had come out of a medically induced coma to reduce swelling in his brain.
He spent six months at a hospital in France after his accident, before being transferred to the hospital in Lausanne. His family home is in Gland, which is on the shores of Lake Geneva, some 25 miles from Lausanne.
“Henceforth, Michael’s rehabilitation will take place at his home. Considering the severe injuries he suffered, progress has been made in the past weeks and months,” Sabine Kehm said in a statement on September 9.
Michael Schumacher has left a Swiss hospital to continue his recovery at home
The statement did not give any indication of whether there had been a change in the state of Michael Schumacher’s health.
“We ask that the privacy of Michael’s family continue to be respected, and that speculations about his state of health are avoided,” it added.
Michael Schumacher’s family and manager also thanked the team at CHUV Lausanne hospital “for their thorough and competent work”.
He underwent two operations to remove blood clots from his brain before he was put into a medically induced coma to try to reduce swelling.
Investigators probing the accident at the French ski resort of Meribel said Michael Schumacher had been going at the speed of “a very good skier” at the time of his crash.
Michael Schumacher had been skiing off-piste when he fell and hit a rock, they said.
Last month, a man arrested on suspicion of leaking Michael Schumacher’s medical files was found hanged in his cell.
The man, who has not been named, was a manager at Swiss air rescue firm Rega, which was involved in the transfer of Schumacher from Grenoble, France, to Lausanne.
Michael Schumacher’s medical records were allegedly stolen and offered for sale to several newspapers.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone will make a $100 million payment to end the bribery trial.
Bernie Ecclestone’s offer was based on an existing provision in German law.
Earlier on Tuesday German prosecutors accepted the offer from the 83-year-old billionaire who dominates motor racing.
Bernie Ecclestone went on trial in April, accused of paying a German banker 33 million euros ($44 million) to ensure that a company he favored could buy a stake in F1.
He denies wrongdoing.
The ruling means he walks free from the district court in Munich and can continue running the sport. It also means Bernie Ecclestone is found neither guilty nor innocent.
His personal wealth is put at $4.2 billion by Forbes.
If found guilty, Bernie Ecclestone could have faced a 10-year jail term and the end of his decades-long dominance of motor racing.
Bernie Ecclestone will make a $100 million payment to end the bribery trial (photo Reuters)
A BayernLB banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, was allegedly paid by Bernie Ecclestone to ensure the F1 stake was bought by a company that he favored, so that he would remain in charge of the sport.
Gerhard Gribkowsky was sentenced to 8 and half years in prison in 2012 for accepting bribes.
Bernie Ecclestone says the payment was given to Gerhard Gribkowsky after the banker threatened to make false claims about the F1 boss’s tax status.
Prosecutors said Bernie Ecclestone’s advanced age and other mitigating circumstances gave grounds to accept the $100 million offer.
Bernie Ecclestone has attended most of the hearings in person and arrived at the courthouse on Tuesday in a limousine, looking relaxed and accompanied by his wife, Fabiana Flosi.
Asked by Judge Peter Noll if he could raise the $100 million, Bernie Ecclestone replied “yes”. When asked if the payment could be made within a week, his defense lawyer, Sven Thomas, said: “That’s do-able.”
Judge Peter Noll ruled that $99 million would go to the Bavarian state coffers while $1 million would be donated to a children’s hospital. The sum is believed to be a record for such a payment.
Court spokesperson Andrea Titz said Bernie Ecclestone: “The court did not consider a conviction overwhelmingly likely from the present point of view.
“With this type of ending… there is no ruling on guilt or innocence of the defendant.”
Under German law defendants can in certain circumstances “buy” termination of a trial.
The legal proviso exists in order to ease the burden on the courts and to deal with cases where reaching a judgment could prove difficult.
However, a lawyer quoted by the Spiegelonline website, Franz Bielefeld, said it was unusual for the clause to be invoked in mid-trial – more often it is done before a trial starts.
Bernie Ecclestone has appeared in court at the start of a trial on bribery charges in Munich, Germany.
The Formula 1 boss is accused of giving a $45 million (33 million euros) bribe to a German banker to secure the sale of a stake in the F1 business to a company he favored.
Bernie Ecclestone admits paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is serving a jail sentence for receiving the payment, but has denied any wrongdoing.
He continues to run the F1 business on a day-to-day basis despite the charges.
To alleviate his workload, however, Bernie Ecclestone has stood down from a number of F1-related positions until the case concludes.
Bernie Ecclestone is accused of giving a $45 million bribe to a German banker to secure the sale of a stake in the F1 business to a company he favored
Correspondents say that he appeared relaxed as he consulted with his lawyers on Thursday ahead of the proceedings.
Asked by a journalist outside the court whether he was confident of victory, he replied: “I’m confident the sun is shining.”
German prosecutors allege that he bribed Gerhard Gribkowsky, who was on the board of Bayern Landesbank, to ensure that F1 was sold to a private equity group of Bernie Ecclestone’s choice.
The allegation is that by securing the sale of the stake to a company Bernie Ecclestone favored, he would remain in charge of Formula 1 and its commercial rights, broadcast payments and sponsorship deals.
The payments were made between July 2006 and December 2007.
Bernie Ecclestone, 83, admits paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, but says he was effectively the victim of blackmail. He has said the banker had been threatening to reveal false details of his tax affairs.
If convicted, Bernie Ecclestone – one of Britain’s richest men who transformed Formula 1 into a lucrative sport watched by 450 million TV viewers globally – could face up to 10 years in jail.
Gerhard Gribkowsky has been found guilty of corruption, tax evasion and breach of trust and is serving an eight and a half year prison sentence.
Bernie Ecclestone testified during Gerhard Gribkowsky’s trial in 2011, and the former German banker is expected to be the main witness during the F1 chief’s trial, which is scheduled to last until September.
In February, Bernie Ecclestone won a civil case in London’s High Court brought by a German media company, which claimed it lost out financially when the share of F1 belonging to German bank Bayern Landesbank was sold in 2006 to private equity group CVC.
While the judge rejected a damages claim from Constantin Medien against the F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone was ordered to pay $4 million in legal fees.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been indicted by German prosecutors on a bribery charge.
The charge relates to a $44 million payment to a German banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky of Bayern Landesbank. It was linked to the sale of a stake in F1.
Bernie Ecclestone said he had paid Gerhard Gribkowsky to avoid a UK tax inquiry into the sale of Formula 1 in 2006, but denied the payments were bribes.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been indicted by German prosecutors on a bribery charge
Gerhard Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail in Munich.
Speaking to the Financial Times on Wednesday, Bernie Ecclestone said: “I have just spoken to my lawyers and they have received an indictment. It’s being translated into English.”
Asked how he responded to the indictment, he said: “We are defending it properly. It will be an interesting case. It’s a pity it’s happened.”
Bernie Ecclestone said it was “inevitable” that the indictment had been served.
“If someone wants to sue you, they can do it and you have to defend it,” he said.
In 2006, Gerhard Gribkowsky was in charge of managing the sale of regional bank BayernLB’s 48% stake in Formula 1 to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, which meant the firm owned most of the sport.
CVC has since reduced its stake in a series of deals.
In evidence to a Munich court in June last year, Gerhard Gribkowsky admitted that prosecution claims he had corruptly received $41.4 million in bank commissions, and a large payment via a family trust from Bernie Ecclestone, were “essentially true”.
In his testimony, Bernie Ecclestone said he had been worried that if he had not paid the money, Gerhard Gribkowsky would have alerted the UK tax authorities to “things” that might have led to a tax inquiry.
“The only alternative was that the British tax authorities followed a case that would have been very expensive for me,” said Bernie Ecclestone at the time.
“The tax risk would have exceeded £2 billion. I paid him to keep calm and not to do silly things.”
Mercedes faces an investigation by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Formula 1’s governing body, after being accused of taking part in an illegal tyre test.
Red Bull and Ferrari lodged an official protest at the Monaco Grand Prix after discovering tyre supplier Pirelli used Mercedes to do a three-day test.
In-season testing in F1 is forbidden. Pirelli says it has a contract with the FIA allowing limited testing.
The Monaco GP stewards are to prepare a report for the FIA.
A statement said the governing body “may bring the matter before the International Tribunal”.
The body, effectively for these purposes the FIA’s court, can impose any number of penalties, ranging from exclusion from the world championship to a fine.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said: “As it is to do with the sporting regulations, you might expect a sporting penalty, but because it is not really clear what could be the effect on the race weekend, it is maybe bigger than that.
“I honestly don’t know what should be the solution. Because there is no precedent, I have no idea what should happen.”
Red Bull and Ferrari have accused Mercedes of breaking article 22.4 of the sporting regulations, which forbids in-season testing other than for a single three-day young driver test or for very limited straight-line aerodynamic tests.
Mercedes to be investigated by FIA after Ferrari & Red Bull tyre test protest
Pirelli say they are allowed to ask teams to do up to 1,000km of testing, which was as much as Mercedes did over three days at the Circuit de Catalunya in the immediate aftermath of the Spanish Grand Prix, the race before Monaco.
But Red Bull and Ferrari say the rules state this must only be with a car that is at least two years old. Mercedes used their 2013 car.
Rival teams were not informed about the test, which not only involved Mercedes’ 2013 car but also race drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
Rival teams are angry because extra testing could give Mercedes a technical advantage. Mercedes says they sought permission from the FIA, which approved the test.
Mercedes has been struggling with heavy tyre usage this season.
The tyres used were development designs for next season and a new tyre Pirelli wants to introduce at the Canadian Grand Prix, the next event after Monaco.
Pirelli is aiming to introduce rear tyres that are less vulnerable to delamination following a series of failures. But the plan is in dispute – Ferrari, Lotus and Force India have yet to approve it.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said he had only learnt about the test on Saturday night.
“I can understand Pirelli wanting to test the tyres,” he said.
“What’s disappointing is it’s been done in not a transparent manner. A three-day test has taken place with a current car running on tyres that are going to be used in the next grand prix and irrelevant of what you call it, that’s testing.”
He added: “We need to deal with it through the proper channels so that’s what we’ll look at doing.”
A Ferrari spokesman added: “Pirelli can offer to the teams the chance to do 1,000km of testing for tyre development and safety. But the fundamental aspect is the year of the car because if you use a current car it should be allegedly a breach of article 22.
“We want a clarification on this because if it is not against article 22 we would be interested in doing this.”
Mercedes’ test is the second tyre test conducted by Pirelli this season. The first was done by Ferrari between the Bahrain and Spanish Grands Prix but involved a 2011 car.
Insiders say Mercedes’ tyre problems this year made it logical for Pirelli to use their car in assessing new tyres aimed at preventing failures.
Michael Schumacher has announced that he will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season.
Lewis Hamilton is to replace the seven-time world champion at Mercedes from next year.
Michael Schumacher, 43, was linked with a move to Sauber for 2013 but has decided to end an F1 career that began in 1991.
“Although I am still able to compete with the best drivers, at some point it is good to say goodbye,” he said.
“During the past month I was not sure if I still had the motivation and energy which is necessary to go on.
“It is not my style to go on if I’m not 100% with it. With today’s decision I feel released from those doubts.”
Michael Schumacher won 91 races in 19 seasons, helping to revive Ferrari’s fortunes after he joined them in 1996.
He won his first title with Benetton in 1994 and repeated the feat the following year.
Michael Schumacher claimed five straight titles between 2000 and 2004, before retiring for a first time in 2006.
After three years away from the sport he made a comeback with Mercedes in 2010.
However, since his return he has managed just one podium finish in three seasons, at Valencia earlier this year.
Speculation that Michael Schumacher could retire at the end of the season first surfaced at the start of September, when Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said he was “sorry that he’s leaving us not being a winner, because he is a winner”.
Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug said: “I thank Michael. We have known each other a long time; we started together in Group C racing and he went on to be the most successful driver in Formula 1, winning more races and titles than any other driver.
“We were competitors against him [when Schumacher was at Ferrari with Mercedes supplying McLaren with engines] and we had always dreamed of working together and it came after Brawn Mercedes won the World Championship in 2009.
“We did not achieve what we wanted to but Michael has laid some strong foundations and I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart.”
It is unclear what Michael Schumacher will decide to do after retiring, but Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has already suggested a position is available for him within the motorsport group.
“We would like him to stay involved with Mercedes,” Ross Brawn said last week.
“There is a lot of things he can contribute – perhaps on the racing car side but certainly on the road car side and I think that is something he would enjoy a great deal.
“I think with a few months reflection he will decide what he wants to do with the next part of his life, and I hope it is still with what we are doing here at Mercedes.”
Michael Schumacher’s career:
1969: Born 3 January
1991: Makes F1 debut in Belgium for Jordan team
1992: Third in championship for Benetton
1994: Wins first title for Benetton
1995: Second title
1996: Joins Ferrari
2000: First title for Ferrari
2001-04: Makes it five titles in a row
2006: Last win in China. Retires at end of the season