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Lauda to rejoin Church

Niki Lauda has revealed he feels naked without headgear and that he plans to become a member of the Church again.

The Austrian businessman started wearing a baseball cap when bandage wrapped around his seriously burned head would not stop coming off after a serious Formula One (F1) crash 35 years ago.

"Yes, I do feel naked without it. I wear the cap for my protection. Without it, I’m subjected to the stupid looks. Many people only wait for me to take it off so they can ogle at my burned ear," the FlyNiki CEO told the Kurier newspaper yesterday (Sun).

He added: "I’m a well-educated person, so I do take it off at certain occasions – in churches, for example."

Lauda also disclosed he decided to rejoin the Austrian Roman Catholic Church after quitting his membership "many years ago."

The three-time F1 champion explained: "They came up with an astronomical estimation of my income as a racing driver to establish my contribution. But that was a long time ago. Now is the beginning of a new era."

Lauda married Birgit Wetzinger in 2008. The former stewardess donated a kidney to him to save his life three years earlier.

"Birgit and I are living strictly living on the 10 Commandments – especially the one about infidelity," Lauda told the Kurier. He added the Church should exempt him from paying any of its so-called tax for the PR work he was doing for the institution by revealing his rejoining in the interview.

Lauda claimed he was the "most critical Catholic there is." Asked to reveal what he was unhappy about, he said: "The Pope acts stubbornly and backward-looking. He travels to Africa where children are starving to death and prohibits the usage of condoms although millions of people die from AIDS there."

Lauda also criticised the Church over the emerged cases of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. "I hope modern thinking will soon start (in the Church)," he said.

It emerged last week that Money Service Group (MSG), Lauda’s most sponsorship partner, faces fraud investigations in Liechtenstein where it is based. Lauda decided to cancel his contract with the financial investment group regardless of the outcome of the inspection by prosecutors. He also stopped wearing the dark blue baseball cap depicting MSG’s logo.

Asked by the Kurier whether he could imagine cooperating with Viagra, Marlboro or a vodka producer, he said: "Forget it! I’m not even considering such options. (...) I don’t panic only because the red cap I’m wearing at the moment doesn’t emblazon any logo."

Lauda once more denied talking prices. Business newspapers have suggested he may rake in as much as 1.5 million Euros a year with the head sponsor partnership. "I will not give a figure but you have to consider the enormous impact, only created by my F1 activities for (TV station) RTL. Five million people are watching. The strong presence on TV and in the papers cannot be denied," Lauda said, adding that there were "no evidence" that MSG could experience financial turmoil when he partnered up with the business last January.

Lauda is one of the best known living Austrians in the world. He won the F1 championship in 1975, 1977 and 1984. Lauda established FlyNiki eight years ago. The airline has managed to increase its activity and ticket sales over the years. Around 3.1 million passengers booked flights provided by the low-cost carrier last year.

Lauda – who has lashed out at politicians many times – revealed two years ago he planned to fly into space as part of billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic endeavour.

Austrian Times


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