Formula One legend Niki Lauda dies aged 70

Formula One legend Niki Lauda dies aged 70

Three-time Formula One world champion Niki Lauda passed away “peacefully” and surrounded by his family on Monday (local time).

The Austrian, widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers of all time, died aged 70, his lawyers and a family spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday.

“With deep sadness we announce that our beloved Niki passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Monday,” a spokesperson for Mr Lauda’s airline Laudamotion said.

“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable.”

Mr Lauda won his first championship with Ferrari in 1975, but struggled with health problems since his crash at the Nüburgring circuit during the 1976 German Grand Prix, when he was trapped in the cockpit of his Ferrari for almost a minute.

He suffered severe burns and inhaled toxic fumes.

Despite his injuries, Mr Lauda returned to racing that season, eventually finishing second in the championship to James Hunt.

He went on to win the championship in 1977 before announcing his retirement at the end of the 1979 season.

He returned to the sport with McLaren in 1984, and won the championship for a third time the following year.

He is the only driver to win an F1 title after returning from retirement.

Following his final retirement from the sport in 1985, Lauda founded his own airline (most of which was sold to Ryanair) and also worked as a TV commentator, and served as non-executive chairman for the Mercedes F1 team.

However, the 1976 crash left him with extensive facial scarring and a number of long-term health issues, requiring two kidney transplants in 1997 and 2005.

In 2018 he underwent an emergency lung transplant and was hospitalised again in January this year with flu.

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