Motor racing, and the Niki Lauda/Ferrari saga. The Austrian driver, honoured for his courage on?
Motor racing, and the Niki Lauda/Ferrari saga. The Austrian driver, honoured for his courage on Monday (14 February) when he received the International Award for Valour in Sport, two days later was practising in Italy with Ferrari term-mate Carlos Reutemann of Argentina. Lauda, who won the award for his incredible come-back after a near fatal crash last year, has nevertheless been demoted by his boss Enzo Ferrari for pulling out of December's Japanese Grand Prix. Now Ferrari has a new favourite - Carlos Reutemann, current leaders in the World Drivers' Championship after last month's Brazilian Grand Prix.
SYNOPSIS: Despite rumours of a rift between them, Lauda and Reutemann chatted amiably on Wednesday at the Vallelunga test track near Rome. The Ferrari team's purpose at the track was to test their Ferrari 312 T2 before leaving for South Africa and the next Grand Prix on 5 March. Lauda had a practise drive in the car which be reckons should win the South African race.
Lauda feels that Reutemann's cars now get preference at the test track, and on Wednesday (16 February) at least it looked that way. For the car had Reutemann's name written on it.
Lauda will be out to redeem himself in South Africa. He came third in Brazil, but failed to finish in the Argentina Grand Prix, in which Reutemann came third. Reutemann now has 13 points in the World Championship, followed by South Africa's Jody Scheckter with nine. Lauda, the 1975 world champion, and for two years undisputed number one in the Ferrari team, is trailing with only four points.
Lauda's face may be badly scarred from last year's ordeal but there are no doubts about his fitness. And he's still out to prove he's a champion.