Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda ha...
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Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda has died

Formula One legend Niki Lauda has sadly died at the age of 70.

The Austrian underwent a lung transplant 9 months ago and had also been undergoing kidney dialysis.  He passed away peacefully on Monday, according to his family.

Lauda won 3 World Drivers' Championships, in 1975, 1977 and 1984.  He was the only man to ever win the World title with the Ferrari and McLaren teams.

Lauda took the plunge to finance himself into the sport in the early 1970's before joining Ferrari.

He narrowly escaped death when his car burst into flames following a crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix, suffering third degree burns to his head and face.  He had warned race organisers about the safety of the track beforehand.  That he survived at all was incredible, as he also inhaled toxic fumes which damaged his lungs.

Even more remarkably, Lauda returned to race that season, narrowly losing the title to Britain's James Hunt, a rivalry that was portrayed in the film 'Rush'.  Lauda refused to complete the race in poor conditions at the season ending Japanese Grand Prix.

Lauda overcame his accident to win the 1977 championship before leaving Ferrari.  He was signed up by McLaren in the early 1980's and his 1984 battle with team mate Alain Prost was epic.  Prost won more races, but Lauda was more consistent.  Lauda pipped Prost to the title by just half a point.

A year later, Lauda retired from Formula 1, his final victory achieved at the Dutch Grand Prix.

At a time when the sport was more raw, less technically advanced and less safe, Lauda's bravery, resilience and powers of recovery made him a worldwide icon.

Lauda was also a successful businessman, setting up Lauda Air and Laudamotion, which were sold to Austrian Airlines and Ryanair respectively.

In recent years he was the non executive chairman of the Mercedes team and played a leading role in attracting current world champion Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes.

 

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