Ex-Formula One driver, John Watson talked to Joe Molloy on Tuesday's Off The Ball about the late Niki Lauda.
When asked what made Lauda great, John Watson recalled how Niki Lauda was an "intelligent, focused, very competitive man who was clear thinking, who was honest to himself and to his team."
Watson and Lauda were teammates at Parmalat and McLaren in the 1970s and 1980s. He stated that while Lauda was "self-centered and focused on his own efforts," on a personal level and human level, he liked Lauda and enjoyed his company.
A horrific crash at the Nürburgring in Germany in 1976, stopped Niki Lauda from racing for 40 days and left him with severe injuries. Watson explained how he arrived at the crash site as Lauda was being removed from the car. He recalls suggesting that Lauda rests his head on his lap. He then witnessed the severe third-degree burns that Lauda suffered.
40 days after the crash at the Nürburgring, Niki Lauda made a comeback to finish fourth in the Italian Grand Prix. By the end of the race, the blood from his unhealed wounds had soaked through his balaclava.
Watson explained one of the difficulties in Japan with Lauda's injuries. Tissue scaring on one of Lauda's tear ducts caused an uncontrollable flow of water from his eye. This with the extreme rainfall caused Lauda to be very uncomfortable during the race and forced him to stop after two laps.
Watson stated that Lauda took a pragmatic approach to dealing with his scars, and had little surgery on his injuries. He recalls how Lauda said:
"If people liked me before the accident, why should my face make any difference to whether they like me or not?"
Watson concluded by saying:
"Niki was an exceptionally talented and highly intelligent man. You look into some peoples eyes and you can tell, 'that's a very bright intelligent person,' and he was one of those people."
You can watch the full interview here: