Iconic Formula One driver Niki Lauda has passed away at the age of 70, his family said in a statement on Tuesday.
“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” the statement read.
Lauda died eight months after undergoing a lung transplant.
“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain,” the statement added.
“A role model and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed.”
The Austrian race legend won the F1 drivers’ world championship three times, in 1975 and 1977 for Ferrari and in 1984 with McLaren.
“All at McLaren are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, colleague and 1984 Formula 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, has passed away. Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history. #RIPNiki,” his former team tweeted.
Lauda was the non-executive chairman at Mercedes since 2012 and was instrumental in bringing in Lewis Hamilton.
During his racing career, Lauda suffered horrific injuries during the 1976 German Grand Prix when his vehicle burst into flames at the Nuerburgring. Despite being given the last rites in hospital he made a miraculous recovery to race again just six weeks later still bandaged and in immense pain.
He missed only two races that season but was unable to deny Britain’s James Hunt, who won his only world title.
That great rivalry was the storyline of the 2013 film “Rush”.
Lauda quit F1 at the end of 1979 to pursue civil aviation. But he returned in 1982, this time with McLaren and won his last world championship with them in 1984.
Lauda underwent a lung transplant in Vienna last year due to infection in his lungs, which had been damaged by the high temperature smoke during the 1976 accident.
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