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Motorsport world mourns Lauda’s passing

21 May 2019

The world of motorsport mourned the death of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Niki Lauda, who passed away on Monday at the age of 70.

The Austrian made his Formula 1 debut at his home race in 1971 driving for March. In 1974, after two uncompetitive seasons with March and the fading BRM team, Lauda was signed for Ferrari, with which he won two World Championships in 1975 and 1977.

These championship victories were interspersed with a terrible crash in 1976 at the German Grand Prix, where Lauda was badly burned and suffered lung damage after his car burst into flames. Despite the severity of his injuries, he made a miraculous recovery to return to racing at the Italian Grand Prix, just 40 days after his accident.

Following his title victory in 1977, Lauda moved to Brabham for two seasons, and had a brief stint as an airline entrepreneur, before being coaxed back to the driver’s seat by McLaren in 1982. It was with the Woking-based team that he claimed his third and final title in 1984, beating out his teammate, a young Alain Prost.

The following year after 25 wins from 171 starts, Lauda ended his career as a driver, however, he did not give up Formula 1 entirely and spent the final years of his life acting as Mercedes AMG F1 team’s non-executive director.

“Niki will always remain one of the greatest legends of our sport – he combined heroism, humanity and honesty inside and outside the cockpit,” said Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff. “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 1.”

Formula 1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey, meanwhile, added that Lauda’s passing marked the loss of a “hero”. “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.”

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