Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70.
The three-time world champion, who underwent a lung transplant in August 2018, “passed away peacefully” on May 20, his family announced.
“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,” his family’s statement said.
Niki Lauda, one of the best-known figures in motor racing, took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984.
For many, the legendary Austrian will be remembered for his remarkable recovery and return to racing after being badly burned in a crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix.
A new generation of fans was introduced to Niki Lauda in the acclaimed 2013 film Rush, which detailed his rivalry with British driver James Hunt, the 1976 world champion.
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Niki Lauda, who was born in Vienna in February 1949, was a motor racing legend who went on to be a successful businessman following his retirement from the sport.
However, the Austrian was probably best-known for surviving a crash during the 1976 season which left him scarred for life.
On August 1, 1976, one year after winning his first title, Niki Lauda suffered third-degree burns to his head and face and inhaled toxic gases that damaged his lungs after his vehicle burst into flames at Nurburgring.
Niki Lauda was given the last rites in hospital but made an almost miraculous recovery and returned to racing, still bandaged, just 40 days later.
After his career as a racing driver, Niki Lauda became an airline entrepreneur and, most recently, a non-executive chairman for the Formula 1 Mercedes team, instrumental in bringing in British driver Lewis Hamilton, who has won five world championships.
However, ill health followed him into his later years and he underwent a lung transplant last year.
Niki Lauda had previously had two kidney transplants, the second donated in 2005 by his then-girlfriend Birgit Wetzinger, a former flight attendant for his airline whom he married in 2008.
In January 2019, he spent 10 days in hospital while suffering from influenza.
Niki Lauda leaves behind his wife, their twins born in 2009, and three sons from previous relationships.