Niki Lauda, one of the most legendary race car drivers in Formula One history, was married twice. After being divorced from his first wife, Marlene Knaus, in 1991, he swore to himself that he would never marry again. But, in 2008, he wed his second wife, Birgit Wetzinger.
Niki Lauda is widely regarded as one of the best drivers in the history of Formula One racing. He raced for Ferrari and McLaren and won three World Championships, two of which came after he suffered a life-threatening injury at the 1976 German Grand Prix, which left him scarred for life and caused him to lose most of the hair and eyebrows on the right side of his head as well as his right ear.
Lauda’s first marriage was successful and lasted for nearly a decade. At that time, the couple had two children. Lauda did not marry again for over twenty years after her first marriage ended. Birgit Wetzinger, who had given a kidney to him after only eight months together, dated Lauda for around four years before they were married in 2008. They went on to have two children until Lauda passed away in 2019.
In the movie ‘Rush,’ there is a recreation of what may be an account of how Niki met his first wife.
Universal Pictures produced a biographical film about the competition between two renowned Formula One drivers, James Hunt and Lauda, in 2013. The film was centered on the rivalry between the two drivers. In spite of the fact that the majority of the movie focuses on the drivers’ accomplishments in the 1976 Formula One Championship, viewers will also get a look into their personal lives at that time period.
It is essential to keep in mind that just a few of the events that are shown in the film are based on genuine events. For example, the tension between Lauda (played by Daniel Brühl) and Hunt (played by Chris Hemsworth) was ratcheted up for the sake of the story’s dramatic impact. At the earlier phases of their careers, the two were not as antagonistic toward one another and even lived together in the same apartment.
Despite this, a lot of the information that was presented in the movie was correct. Lauda was asked for his input during the production of the movie, and he ultimately gave his blessing to the final product. When Lauda finally meets Knaus, the character who would become Lauda’s first wife, it is one of the most exhilarating moments in the movie «Rush.»
The movie suggests that Lauda and Knaus became acquainted when Lauda hitched a ride in Knaus’ automobile. Formula One driver confronts her after discovering problems with her car and tries to alert her to the situation. But, she is certain that there is nothing wrong with the car since it was just serviced. In a short while, the automobile gives out, and the two individuals start looking for someone who can give them a ride.
Two Italian nationals, who are aware of Lauda’s presence, approach him and his companions and offer to give them a ride. They are overjoyed about his recent contract with Ferrari, an Italian automotive firm, and as a result, they urge him to test drive their vehicle. Lauda is able to demonstrate his driving skills to the German socialite by going extremely fast after having a talk with Knaus, which manages to impress her.
When they first met, Lauda was reputedly eight years into his relationship with Mariella Reininghaus, while Knaus was in a relationship with the German-Austrian actor Curt Jurgens. Jurgens gained widespread recognition for his performance as the henchman Karl Stromberg in the James Bond film «The Spy Who Loved Me,» which also starred Roger Moore and Barbara Back.
Immediately after that event, the two of them started a romance that would eventually lead to their marriage a few months and 1976 later. The marriage had two children, Mathias, who became a racing driver like his father, and Lukas, who is now his brother’s manager. Mathias followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a racing driver. They separated in 1991, reportedly because Lauda was having an affair with another woman.
The donation of a kidney to Niki by his second wife, Niki’s Second Wife, helped save his life.
When his marriage to Knaus ended in divorce, Lauda did not remarry for around 17 years until he wed Wetzinger, who would become his second wife. It is possible that they became acquainted with one another while Wetzinger was employed as a flight attendant at the airline that is no longer in operation and was owned by the former racing driver.
Despite the fact that Wetzinger was 30 years younger than Lauda, she loved the Austrian racing driver very deeply—even more than he had anticipated she would. After Lauda’s diagnosis of renal failure, she made a selfless decision to make a sacrifice in order to preserve his life. That was the second attempt; the initial transplant in 2005 had been unsuccessful.
It was a waste of time to try to get his son Lukas to donate a kidney to him since their blood types did not match. Yet, Wetzinger rushed to the aid of Lauda just in the nick of time. Lauda was first hesitant about the prospect of donating her kidney, but ultimately she became enthusiastic about carrying it through.
They had been together for less than a year when he discovered he needed a kidney transplant; as a result, Lauda did not feel it was proper for her to donate one of her kidneys to him at that time. In his recollection,
«I spoke with my son Lucas about the possibility of his donating a kidney, but the timing was not right. After that, Birgit said that she would complete the exam, but I questioned her by asking, «Why would you complete the test?» «Because I want to,» was the reason she said. Since I’m sick and we’ve been friends for eight years, I told you that there’s no way you’ll ever give one of your kidneys to me. Hence, I would never act in such a way. (sic)»
After giving it some thought, they came to the conclusion that they should go through with the treatment, and Lauda said that he was hoping that nothing untoward would happen to her. The operation was successful, and he now has a kidney that is in good working order.
After going through a divorce with Knaus, Lauda first declared that he would never marry again. Nevertheless, a few years later, he changed his mind and married Wetzinger in the year 2008. He emphasized that the reason he married her was love, not gratitude for the assistance she had provided him:
«It wasn’t because of the kidney donation that we decided to be married; rather, it was because she was the perfect lady for me to marry. After then, we were blessed with two children, Max and Mia. I can only attribute all of this to the good fortune that was bestowed upon me.»
When Lauda and Wetzinger had their children, Lauda felt as if he was being given a second opportunity at being a parent. He was always preoccupied with his racing career, so he missed out on a lot of the important moments in the lives of his two eldest boys when they were born. He accepted this.
Lauda saw the birth of his children, Max and Mia, as a second chance at atonement. He seized this opportunity with both hands and began to enjoy the time he spent with his children, praising them for giving him a sense of youth. Nonetheless, the three-time World Champion said that he did not have any regrets about the events of the past and that he was happy that he still had a wonderful connection with Mathias and Lukas.