Niki Lauda, the man dubbed the “most courageous man in motor racing history”, has died at 70.
The three time Formula 1 world champion, who passed away peacefully last Monday, won both for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984. But he is best known for the miraculous recovery he made after his car burst into flames events on 1st August 1976 at Nurburgring. Despite receiving third degree burns to his face and neck and inhaling toxic gases that severely damaged his lungs, within 40 days he returned to racing, his face still bandaged and bleeding, and his remarkable fighting spirit winning him plaudits and fans around the world. New fans were introduced to Lauda by the 2013 film “Rush” starring Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth.
Lauda, who was born in Vienna in 1949, followed his legendary Formula 1 career with a successful business one, becoming an airline entrepreneur and, later, chairman for the F1 Mercedes team. But despite his legendary status and enviable achievements in F1 and beyond, tributes to the racing star repeated how down to earth he was, praising his integrity, warmth and humour.
A statement from his family said “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.” Niki Lauda will no doubt remain an inspiration to millions of Formula 1 fans around the world for many years to come.