Niki Lauda, the Austrian Formula 1 legend has died

Niki Lauda, the Austrian Formula 1 legend has died

May 21, 2019

Niki Lauda, the Austrian Formula 1 legend immortalised in the film Rush who was horrendously burned in a crash but survived and become an airline entrepreneur, dies aged 70 eight months after a lung transplant

  • Lauda won the F1 drivers’ championship in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari and again in 1984 with McLaren
  • In 1976, he was badly burned when he crashed during the German Grand Prix, but made an astonishingly fast return to racing just six weeks later
  • The comeback became the stuff of legend and his battle with Britain’s James Hunt was the subject of the hit movie ‘Rush’

Formula One legend Niki Lauda who survived horrendous burns to become an airline entrepreneur has died aged 70, after a period of ill health.

Lauda won the F1 drivers’ championship in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari and again in 1984 with McLaren.

In 1976, he was badly burned when he crashed during the German Grand Prix, but made an astonishingly fast return to racing just six weeks later.

In a statement, his family said: ‘With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,’ his family said in a statement.

‘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 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.’

His comeback in 1976 after suffering severe burns became the stuff of legend and his battle with Britain’s James Hunt was the subject of the hit movie ‘Rush.’ 

Lauda won the F1 drivers’ championship in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari and again in 1984 with McLaren

Niki Lauda lifts the RAC Trophy and celebrates winning the Marlboro British Grand Prix on July 18 1982 at Brands Hatch

Bernie Ecclestone (pictured centre), Birgit Lauda (pictured  centre right) and Niki Lauda (pictured right) during the Hahnenkamm race on January 23, 2016 in Kitzbuehel, Austria

The burning Ferrari of Austrian Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda after an accident on the 1st of August in 1976 at Nurburgring. Lauda escaped death in the last second, he was pulled out of the burning wreck by his Formula 1 rivals

Niki Lauda of Austria, in action in his Scuderia Ferrari during the British Grand Prix at the Brands Hatch circuit in England, in 1974

Racing champions Niki Lauda (left) and James Hunt (1947 – 1993) arguing about a crash between the two at Zolder race track, Belgium. The two would develop a great rivalry, as portrayed in the Hollywood film Rush

 Journalist Thomas Meyer from Der Standard tweeted: ‘Niki Lauda is dead! The legendary Formula One World Champion was 70 years old.’

After retirement from racing he also became an airline entrepreneur, and had agreed to sell his controlling stake in Laudamotion to Ryanair.

At the start of the year Lauda was in hospital in Vienna with the flu, five months after undergoing a lung transplant.

He was flown in early January from the Spanish island of Ibiza where he had been vacationing to a hospital in the Austrian capital.

Lauda, who received a new lung on August 2 last year, was non-executive chairman of Mercedes. 

 Lauda has twice undergone kidney transplants, in 1997 and 2005. His brother Florian donated an organ for the first operation and his wife Brigit did the same for the second.

Austrian Grand Prix racing car driver Niki Lauda watches on in the late 1970s. Lauda was badly burned in a crash during the 1976 season but returned to race shortly afterward

Lauda had a close working relationship with five-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton and was involved in helping to sign the British driver from McLaren for the 2013 season

Spanish-born actor Daniel Bruhl played the role of Lauda in the Hollywood film Rush

Niki Lauda attends the re-opening of The Hayward Gallery featuring the first major UK retrospective of the work of German photographer Andreas Gursky on January 24, 2018 in London, England

Birgit Wetzinger, Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff attend the Amber Lounge 2015 Charity Fashion Show in benefit of Autism Rocks at Le Meridien Beach Plaza Hotel on May 22, 2015 in Monaco

Lauda had a close working relationship with five-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton and was involved in helping to sign the British driver from McLaren for the 2013 season.

Hamilton has won four of his titles with Mercedes, including the past two and in 2014 and ’15.

He is perhaps best known for his rivalry with the flamboyant James Hunt in the 1976 Formula One season.

Hunt won the world title from Lauda by just one point following a controversial campaign where Lauda suffered the almost life-ending crash after his Ferrari erupted into a fireball at the Nurburgring.

Miraculously Lauda, returned to the cockpit after missing just two races, but narrowly missed out on retaining his title.

The fearsome rivalry was depicted in the film Rush, Hunt was played by Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, best known for his work on The Avengers, while Spanish-born actor Daniel Bruhl played the role of Lauda.

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