Austrian Formula One legend Niki Lauda has passed on at age 70, a family representative said in an announcement. Three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda has died at 70 years old.
The legendary Austrian, a standout amongst the best-realized figures in motor racing, took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984.
For many, he will be associated with his remarkable recuperation and come back to racing after being badly burned in an accident in the 1976 German Grand Prix.
Lauda, who experienced a lung transplant in August, “passed away peacefully” on Monday, his family said.
After his career as a racing driver, he became an airline entrepreneur and, most recently, a non-executive chairman for the Formula 1 Mercedes group, instrumental in acquiring British driver Lewis Hamilton, who has won five world championships.
“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain a role model and a benchmark for all of us,” his family’s announcement said.
On 1 August 1976, one year subsequent to winning his first title, he endured third-degree burns to his head and face and inhaled toxic gases that harmed his lungs after his vehicle burst into blazes at Nurburgring.
He was given the last rites in hospital however made an almost miraculous recovery and came back to racing, still wrapped, only 40 days after the fact.
British former F1 champion Jenson Button has considered him a “legend” while McLaren said Lauda would be “enshrined in our history”.
Lauda’s competition with British driver James Hunt, the 1976 world champion, was depicted in the acclaimed film Rush in 2013.
He experienced two kidney transplants, the second kidney gave in 2005 by his then-girlfriend Birgit Wetzinger, a former flight attendant for his airline whom he married in 2008.
Other than their twins, a boy and a girl born in 2009, Lauda likewise had three children from previous relationships.
In January, Lauda put in exactly 10 days in hospital while experiencing flu.