VIENNA: Three-times Method One champion Niki Lauda, considered one of many most interesting racers of all time and who later turned a profitable airline entrepreneur, has died at 70 after battling declining well being.
Austrian Lauda, who was hospitalised in January for about 10 days whereas affected by influenza and had a lung transplant final August, died on Monday, his household mentioned in an announcement.
“His distinctive achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and can stay unforgettable,” the assertion, revealed by Austrian media, mentioned.
“His tireless zest for motion, his straightforwardness and his braveness stay a job mannequin and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the general public, and he will likely be missed.”
Lauda received two world championships in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari and a 3rd in 1984 with McLaren.
He had a near-fatal crash in 1976 when racing on the Nürburgring however regardless of struggling critical burns, he was quickly again in his Ferrari with a modified helmet and went on to say his second F1 title.
His rivalry with British driver James Hunt, the 1976 champion for McLaren, was intense and have become the topic of the acclaimed 2013 movie “Rush”.
After two much less profitable years at rival outfit Brabham after which a two-year hiatus, Lauda returned to F1 for an additional 4 seasons at McLaren and received the 1984 title by a half-point over staff mate Alain Prost.
Whereas taking his first break after Brabham, Lauda arrange a constitution airline and returned to his aviation enterprise full-time after bowing out of racing.
By means of the 1980s and 1990s, he grew ‘Lauda Air’ into a global service with long-haul flights out of Austria throughout the globe earlier than it was merged into Austrian Airways in 2012.
Lauda additionally returned to F1 in administration roles, first with Ferrari within the 1990s and later with Mercedes, the place he was appointed non-executive chairman in 2012.
He’s credited for serving to carry five-times F1 champion Lewis Hamilton to the staff from McLaren.
Lauda’s demise rocked the F1 group days earlier than the Monaco Grand Prix, the jewel within the circuit’s racing calendar.
“All at McLaren are deeply saddened to be taught that our buddy, colleague and 1984 Method 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, has handed away,” the staff mentioned.
“Niki will endlessly be in our hearts and enshrined in our historical past.”
British former F1 champion Jenson Button, who received a title with Brawn GP in 2009, tweeted: “A legend has left us. Relaxation in peace Niki.”