My friend Niki Lauda was a street fighter and a shining talent in F1 | John Watson

Niki changed people’s perceptions about motor racing and his remarkable range of qualities will be sadly missed

Niki Lauda and I raced both alongside and against one another and remained friends until his death. His qualities, abilities and achievements are rightly admired. The clarity of his thinking and pragmatism – he was an intelligent man, a street fighter, a three-times world champion and his comeback after the accident at the Nürburgring stands as the most courageous act I’ve seen any sportsperson ever make.

We first met in 1971 in the Formula Two championship when Niki had joined the March team. He had the famous Niki Lauda hat – a baseball cap with the name of the bank on it – and rocked up in a Porsche 911-S with a stunning girlfriend, immediately making his mark.

Related: More than a machine: Niki Lauda was an F1 rebel in his own way

Getting back into a car two races after his accident was a huge achievement

Related: The fast show: Niki Lauda’s five greatest F1 races | Giles Richards

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Source: Formula 1

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