Formula 1 had to cope with a heavy loss in the 2019 season. The three-time world champion and Mercedes team supervisory board chairman Niki Lauda died at the end of May as a result of his lung transplant.
The death of the racing legend hit close friends like Helmut Marko or Bernie Ecclestone hard. For a very specific reason, however, the Brit was not at the funeral in Vienna.
“I’m trying to look at this from a different perspective,” the 89-year-old describes in an interview with the ORF. “That’s why I don’t go to funerals. I perceive it differently”.
Ecclestone, or ‘Mr E’ as we like to call him at TJ13, had known Lauda since his Formula 1 career began in the early 1970s.
After his second World Championship title with Ferrari Lauda sought refuge with Ecclestone’s Brabham team due to differences with the Italians. Ecclestone was the team manager of the team at the time and welcomed the two-time World Champion with open arms.
“He was a good friend. Someone I could rely on. A real friend,” remembers Ecclestone. After two victories Lauda left Formula 1 in 1979 – he didn’t want to drive “in circles” anymore. Ecclestone advised him to hang up his helmet early and retire.
For today, Ecclestone has his own way of dealing with his friend’s death.
“Niki is not dead to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if he suddenly walked in the door. He is always with us. He didn’t die for me. He’s just not with us right now.”
A cop-out? Certainly, funerals are not the nicest places to be, and for many, the act of attending a funeral is to put closure on the death of a friend or loved one. But also attending a funeral is to give comfort to others, and perhaps this is simply not part of Ecclestone’s nature.
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