Formula 1 Champ Niki Lauda Has Died

Wednesday, 22 May, 2019

The Austrian driver won the F1 drivers' championship in 1975, 1977 and 1984 and is considered one of the all-time greats.

Niki Lauda passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on May 20, 2019.

"His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable", the family's statement said. Lauda will be remembered not only for his world championships but also for his exceptional driving and better judgement on and off the track.

'Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history'.

Years before that, Lauda received kidney transplants.

The glitz and glamour of Monaco will be severely compromised this weekend following the news that Niki Lauda has passed away aged 70.

But just 40 days after he nearly burnt to death at the wheel of his Ferrari, sustaining injuries so catastrophic he was read the last rites in hospital, Lauda returned to his Formula One cockpit.

By the time the Austrian ended his racing career in 1985, he had competed in 171 Formula One races, winning 25 of them and standing on the podium 54 times.

In 1976, just weeks before the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, Lauda tried to get his fellow drivers to boycott the event over safety concerns.

Despite being administered the last rites by a priest, Lauda, his injuries still in the process of healing, was back in the auto a mere six weeks later at the Italian Grand Prix.

Three years later, he returned to race for McLaren, wining his third race of the season, the 1982 Long Beach Grand Prix.

A towering and iconic figure in F1 racing history, the tributes poured in for Lauda as news of his demise spread. "At Monza, I was rigid with fear".

Formula One posted a message from its official Twitter account to acknowledge Lauda's contribution to the sport.

Lauda's story is, quite literally, Hollywood-like in its twists and turns, triumphs and tragedy. That relationship yielded a third World Championship two seasons later, when he beat teammate Alain Prost by just half a point.

He had a near-fatal crash in 1976 when racing at the Nurburgring but despite suffering serious burns, he was soon back in his Ferrari with a modified helmet and went on to claim his second F1 title.

Ferrari, another of Lauda's former teams, said: 'Today is a sad day for F1.

In 1979 he left the sport to concentrate on setting up his airline, Lauda Air. He bought it back in January 2018 to run it under the Laudamotion brand, only to sell it quickly to Irish budget carrier Ryanair.

In later years, he served as the non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team and formed a close bond with driver Lewis Hamilton, who joined the team in 2013. Mercedes is now the most dominant team in the F1 paddock as Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas have won every race this season and are now 1-2 in the points standings.