The former Formula One driver and three-time world champion Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70, his family has said.
The Austrian died overnight on Monday, eight months after receiving a lung transplant.
“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” the family said in a statement, according to the Austrian press agency.
The statement paid tribute to “his unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur” and said “his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain. A role model and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed.”
Lauda, who won titles in 1975, 1977 and 1984, was hugely admired, respected and liked within F1 after a remarkable career during which he won two titles for Ferrari and one for McLaren and came back from a horrific accident that left him severely burned and injured in 1976. He competed in 171 races and won 25.
He also actively pursued business interests including his own airline and went on to have senior roles in F1 management, most recently as non-executive chairman at the hugely successful Mercedes since 2012, where he helped bring Lewis Hamilton to the team.
Toto Wolff, team principal at Mercedes, paid an emotional tribute, stating: “First of all, on behalf of the team and all at Mercedes, I wish to send our deepest condolences to Birgit, Niki’s children, his family and close friends. Niki will always remain one of the greatest legends of our sport – he combined heroism, humanity and honesty inside and outside the cockpit.
“His passing leaves a void in Formula One. We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula One. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense.
“Our Mercedes team has also lost a guiding light. As a teammate over the past six and a half years, Niki was always brutally honest – and utterly loyal. It was a privilege to count him among our team and moving to witness just how much it meant to him to be part of the team’s success. Whenever he walked the floor in Brackley and Brixworth, or delivered one of his famous motivational speeches, he brought an energy that nobody else could replicate.
“Niki, you are quite simple irreplaceable, there will never be another like you. It was our honour to call you our chairman – and my privilege to call you my friend.”
Chase Carey, chairman and chief executive of the Formula One group, issued a statement: “It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Niki Lauda. Formula 1 has lost not only one of the truly great exponents of the sport but also one of its heroes. His love of racing and the courage he demonstrated were simply extraordinary and he inspired so many fans. His passing is a great loss for the entire Formula 1 family and motorsport as a whole. All our thoughts go out to his family.”