Austria to mourn F1 legend Lauda in public homage

Niki Lauda in the pits at Monaco in 1976. (AFP pic)

VIENNA: Austria will mourn Formula One legend Niki Lauda with his body laid out in Vienna’s Roman Catholic cathedral in a public homage next Wednesday, his family said.

The three-time world championship winner’s body will be laid out in the Stephansdom cathedral offering the public the chance to pay their last respects to a national hero, a family spokeswoman said Thursday.

A mass will also be held. The funeral will be only for close family, she added, declining to give further details.

Lauda died at the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland on Monday surrounded by his closest family members. He was 70 years old.

His death came eight months after he underwent a lung transplant. Lauda also had kidney transplants – all due to a 1976 horrific race crash.

Lauda’s death triggered an outpouring of grief and praise for one of sports’ outstanding personalities.

An emotional Lewis Hamilton, the defending five-time world champion, was excused from attending an official news conference Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Lauda had been non-executive chairman at Mercedes F1 since 2012 and he was instrumental in bringing in Hamilton to spark a run of success.

“It’s truly been an honour working alongside you over these past seven years. I wouldn’t have been in this team if it wasn’t for you…” said the Briton.