Niki Lauda, 3 time F1 World Champion, has died aged 70

Niki Lauda, the three time Formula 1 World Champion, has died at the age of 70 after battling health problems in recent months.

Niki Lauda has passed away at the age of 70. He had been battling numerous health issues in recent months, having fallen ill with influenza immediately prior to last year’s German Grand Prix. He required a lung transplant at that time, with complications having arisen due to his lungs being badly damaged in his famous 1976 Nurburgring crash.

In a statement released by the Lauda family to Austrian media, they said: “In deep sadness we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully fallen asleep with his family on Monday, 20.05.2019. His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable. His tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain a role model and standard for all of us. Away from the public, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather. We will miss him very much.”

While battling for the 1976 F1 World Championship with his rival, McLaren’s James Hunt, Lauda lost control of his Ferrari and crashed. His car caught fire and Lauda was badly burned as a result. Given the last rites in hospital as he battled for his life, his indomitable spirit saw him back behind the wheel at Monza just six weeks later. While the title that year would elude him, his friendly rivalry with Hunt became part of the legend of the sport with the feature film Rush made about that season. Lauda, having won the title in 1975, would go on to claim the 1977 title as well as the 1984 plaudits with McLaren after making a comeback from retirement.

After stepping away from driving in Formula 1, Lauda became involved in consultancy and management. Initially working as a consultant with Ferrari in the mid-90s, Lauda’s prominence in modern F1 rose when he took a senior management role with Jaguar Racing. He would be instrumental in setting up initial contact between Jaguar (who became Red Bull Racing in 2005) and car designer Adrian Newey. Newey would eventually be lured away from McLaren to join Red Bull and helped turn them into one of the most successful teams in modern F1. Lauda’s involvement with Jaguar came to an end in early 2003, and his next F1 involvement was with Mercedes AMG.

Appointed as non-executive Chairman at Mercedes, Lauda played a huge part in creating the behemoth that is the record-breaking team of today. Lauda also managed to turn Lewis Hamilton away from McLaren in 2012 and convinced him to join Mercedes in 2013 as a replacement for the departing Michael Schumacher.

Lauda was a permanent fixture in the Formula 1 paddock and worked every race up until taking ill before last year’s German Grand Prix.

Developing story. More to follow.

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Thomas Maher

Co-owner, Chief Editor and a journalist for FormulaSpy.com - Ireland's only accredited F1 & Formula E website. Also working in the Irish radio broadcasting industry. Donations: PayPal - paypal.me/thomasmaheronf1 ETH/ERC20 - 0x9d0b8071180AAcB0bD5f0c1d43281768C73e8763

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