The Austrian was regarded as a no-mark when he bought his way into Formula 1 with March after an average career in F3 and F2, but some eye-catching performances with BRM in 1973 earned him a surprise move to Ferrari.
A Ferrari driver hadn't won the world championship since 1964 (sound familiar, Schumacher fans?) and the Austrian helped to galvanise the team into fulfilling its potential. After one season, he had displaced Clay Regazzoni as team leader and comfortably won the 1975 world championship.
He'd have won three-in-a-row but for his near-fatal accident at the Nurburgring in 1976, but despite winning the 1977 title left Ferrari for Brabham, partly because of what he felt was the team not backing him as lead driver when he returned from injury.
After retiring in 1979, his four-year return with McLaren resulted in the 1984 world championship and rounded out one of the most remarkable careers in F1.
Should Niki Lauda be higher or lower in F1's greatest drivers?View Results
|Born||22 Feb 1949|
|Active years||1971 - 1985|
|Champion||1975, 1977, 1984|