Triple Formula 1 world champion, Niki Lauda, passed away at the age of 70. His doctor, Walter Klepetko, confirmed the decease of the Austrian racing driver in the night from Monday to Tuesday.
“In deep mourning we announce that our beloved Niki fell asleep in front of his family on Monday, May 20. His exceptional successes as a sportsman and businessman are and remain unforgettable ”, a spokesperson said on behalf of the family.
“His insatiable urge to act, his straightforwardness and his courage continue to be an example and standard for us all,” the family says. “He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. We will miss him very much. ”
Niki Lauda won the Formula 1 World title three times, in 1975, 1977 and 1984. Since his serious accident at the Nürburgring in 1976, the Austrian has had health problems. He had to undergo a kidney transplant twice, and he received a lung transplant in August of last year after he had contracted a lung infection that summer. He recovered well from the procedure, but his health remained fragile ever since.
Lauda became legendary after his return to Formula 1, just 42 days after the accident in which he almost burned alive. At the Grand Prix on the Monza circuit six weeks later, he was back in his Ferrari and drove to fourth place. That same year he lost the World Title to his rival James Hunt as he missed the world title by just a single point that year. A year later, he again gave the Italian racing team the World Title.
The Hunt–Lauda rivalry was one of the most epic individual sport rivalries in the history of Formula 1 which continued for about six years (from 1973 to 1979) between two F1 drivers, the British James Hunt and the Austrian Niki Lauda. Ron Howard’s film Rush was based on this rivalry and documents this period in great detail.
A year after his third world title in 1984, he decided to quit. Lauda was the last winner on the circuit of Zandvoort in 1985, where in 2020 a Formula 1 race will be held for the first time after 35 years. It was also his last GP victory. In total, Lauda won 25 F1 races, his first in 1974 in Spain.
After his racing career, he set up various airlines, of which Laudamotion was the last one. Lauda was involved with Ferrari as an advisor and later became team principal at Jaguar’s F1 team. Since September 2012, he has been involved with the Mercedes AMG F1 Team, which since 2014 has conquered all World Titles for drivers and manufacturers.
We will follow up on this sad event with some obituary articles in the following days and surely we will give some extra attention to the expected commemorations within the F1 paddock that could be expressed extensively on the livery of both the Mercedes and Ferrari cars but are expected in many individual ways throughout the paddock.
Photocredit: Getty Images
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