The ever-wily Niki Lauda caused a stir last week when he appeared on the red carpet wearing his traditional cap featuring a controversial gambling sponsor.
Formula 1’s great Austrian was in Hollywood to introduce the Golden Globes award candidature for the movie Rush, the biopic based on the legendary 1976 season.
Keen-eyed observers will notice that the lettering on Lauda’s ever-present red cap has changed since the last race of the 2013 season, when the logo of the Abu Dhabi conglomerate – Aabar – was emblazoned on his cap.
Indeed, the Golden Globes signalled the world debut of his new sponsor Novomatic, which according to their website “is one of the largest integrated conglomerates of the international gaming industry.”
“You could hardly have a better start than that,” the 64-year-old was quoted saying, and added, “I’m not allowed to talk about financial details of the deal. However, this campaign is certainly unique.”
But Welt newspaper reports that, within Lauda’s native Austria, the company is a highly controversial gambling giant.
“I think the airplanes and Formula 1 cars have adjusted Mr Lauda’s view of reality,” said Peter Pilz, an Austrian parliamentarian.
Lauda is the chairman of Mercedes’ Formula 1 team, and yet the German carmaker is renowned today for its approach to ethics.
“The team plays no role in the choice of Niki Lauda’s sponsor,” Mercedes told Die Welt. (GMM-GP247)
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