Niki Lauda: F1 stars attend Mass for late racing legend in Austria

media captionLewis Hamilton at Niki Lauda's mass

Thousands of people, including Formula 1 stars, have paid their last respects to racing legend Niki Lauda, whose body lay in state in Vienna, Austria.

His coffin, topped with his red helmet, was carried into St Stephen's cathedral in heavy rain on Wednesday morning.

A Mass was then held before a private funeral. Lauda died last week aged 70 in Switzerland, where he was treated for kidney problems.

The Austrian driver won Formula 1 championships in 1975, 1977 and 1984.

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image captionNiki Lauda's crash helmet was put on the driver's coffin
image copyrightReuters
image captionPeople formed a long queue to pay their tributes to the Austrian legend

He almost died following a crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.

Despite suffering severe burns and inhaling toxic fumes, he resumed racing 40 days later.

Current Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, former drivers Alain Prost, Sir Jackie Stewart and Nico Rosberg were among those who came to Vienna to bid their farewells to Lauda.

Austrian actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen were also among those who attended the Mass in Vienna's famous cathedral.

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image captionArnold Schwarzenegger and his girlfriend Heather Milligan
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image captionFormer Formula 1 star Alain Prost
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image captionRetired German driver Nico Rosberg
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image captionBritish Formula 1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart
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image captionCrowds applauded as Niki Lauda's coffin was being carried out of the cathedral

After winning the Monaco Grand Prix last Sunday, Hamilton paid tribute to Lauda.

"That was for you, Niki. Your fighting spirit was right there with me every step of the way," the British driver wrote in a post on Twitter.

"I know you are looking down and taking your hat off to us. I miss you, we truly miss you and I hope we did you proud today, legend."

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As non-executive chairman of Mercedes, Lauda helped them win both the drivers' and constructors' title in each of the past five seasons.

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