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AUTOSPORT Awards 2013: Niki Lauda gets Gregor Grant Award

Niki Lauda has been presented with a Gregor Grant Award at the 2013 AUTOSPORT Awards

AUTOSPORT Awards 2013: Niki Lauda gets Gregor Grant Award

The Formula 1 legend was back in the headlines this season as he took on a managerial role with the Mercedes grand prix team and his epic 1976 title battle with James Hunt found a new audience thanks to the hit movie Rush.

Lauda collected the award from his former F1 team-mate John Watson.

"I had a lot of fun, I have to say," Lauda said. "People ask me if I was always that mad and I say 'in the old days, yes.'

"I would say my toughest year was my final season with McLaren, fighting over every point with Alain Prost. There were races you didn't win but you knew you had done a good job.

AUTOSPORT's James Hunt and Niki Lauda bookazine

"My first championship with Ferrari was comparatively easy because the car was the best. But that McLaren year was really hard.

"I also want to take this opportunity to really thank Ross Brawn for what he did for Mercedes in the past and especially this year.

"He helped bring Lewis Hamilton to the team, which was the bit of magic we needed to get things going, and he also helped the team to finish second to Red Bull, which was a big achievement because we needed to do two steps.

"So congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull: I really have to say [what they did] was unbelievable.

"I don't know what I have to do to beat [them], but I will try."

Rush: AUTOSPORT review

Little was expected when Lauda made his F1 debut in 1971 after a patchy junior career.

But he showed enough potential with March and BRM to earn a surprise Ferrari seat for 1974.

The partnership he formed with designer Mauro Foghieri and team manager Luca di Montezemolo transformed the struggling Scuderia's fortunes.

Lauda delivered the 1975 F1 title and was on the way to a repeat in '76 before the fiery Nurburgring accident that almost killed him.

He made an extraordinary recovery and missed just two races, then came within a point of the world championship in the famous Fuji finale.

Lauda won the crown again in 1977 before leaving for Brabham and then walking away from F1 completely in mid-79.

Following three years focusing on his airline business, Lauda was enticed back to F1 by McLaren, beating Alain Prost to the 1984 title by just half a point before retiring for good at the end of '85.

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Author Matt Beer
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