Published: Wed, May 22, 2019
Sports | By Brett Lawson

The F1 community pays tribute to Niki Lauda

The F1 community pays tribute to Niki Lauda

He won world titles in 1975, 1977 and 1984.

In August a year ago, he underwent a lung transplant that the Vienna General Hospital said was made necessary by a "serious lung illness".

"In deep mourning, we announce that our beloved Niki has passed away peacefully with his family on Monday", a statement from Lauda's family published by Austrian media confirmed.

"Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history", said his former team McLaren.

Lauda twice underwent kidney transplants, receiving an organ donated by his brother in 1997 and, when that stopped functioning well, a kidney donated by his girlfriend in 2005.

At 70 years old, Niki Lauda clearly had a passion and interest in the business of aviation as much as he did for motorsports and racing.

Lauda suffered severe burns to his head and wrists, as well as having his lungs burnt from the toxic fumes.

Before we get into his towering F1 achievements it's entirely appropriate here to remember that one of Lauda's earliest on track successes came in a "24 Hour" race, taking the win at the Nürburgring in 1973 in a race that, with the looming fuel crisis, saw two 8-hour segments, with an overnight 8 hour gap.

Lauda became one of the best-known people in motor sport following his return to driving six weeks after being dragged from the fiery wreck of his Ferrari in a crash at Germany's Nurburgring circuit in 1976.

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In 1974, Lauda signed with Ferrari, scoring his first Grand Prix win in Spain four races into that season.

'The motorsport community today mourns the devastating loss of a true legend.

Lauda, known as a tough businessman, sold the airline in the 1990s.

Apart from long-term health problems, including two kidney transplants, the crash also left Lauda with his signature red sports cap. "At Monza, I was rigid with fear".

"Formula 1 has lost not only one of the truly great exponents of the sport but also one of its heroes". He continued to fight Hunt for the World Championship until the season finale in torrential rain at Mount Fuji in Japan, where Lauda made the courageous decision to retire because he believed conditions were too risky to continue.

In 1993, Lauda took a consulting managerial role at Ferrari.

Lauda's story is, quite literally, Hollywood-like in its twists and turns, triumphs and tragedy. He bought it back in January 2018 to run it under the Laudamotion brand, only to sell it quickly to Irish budget carrier Ryanair.

An F1 triple world champion, team principal and, latterly, a non-executive chairman at Mercedes-AMG, he has left an indelible mark on the world of Grand Prix racing. He had played an important role in bringing British F1 champion racer Lewis Hamilton to the team.

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