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.
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
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
Niki Lauda leaves behind his wife, their twins born in 2009, and three sons from previous relationships.
Liberty Media is buying the racing business Formula 1 for $4.4 billion, the company has confirmed.
The announcement ends years of speculation about the ownership of Formula 1.
Bernie Ecclestone will remain as chief executive but Chase Carey, vice-chairman of 21st Century Fox, will become the new chairman.
Liberty Media has also stakes in several sports and entertainment businesses, including the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club.
Owned by the billionaire John Malone, Liberty Media will initially purchase a minority stake in the world’s leading motor-racing championship. A full takeover is planned if regulators approve the deal.
The total transaction values the firm at $8 billion but includes $4.1 billion worth of F1’s debt.
Liberty Media is buying the stake from the private equity firm CVC Capital.
CVC has held a stake for the past decade but sold some of its holding in 2012.
The private equity firm has been criticized for taking considerable profits from the sport, which has suffered from falling TV ratings in recent years.
“We are excited to become part of Formula 1,” said Greg Maffei, chief executive of Liberty Media.
“We think our long-term perspective and expertise with media and sports assets will allow us to be good stewards of Formula 1 and benefit fans, teams and our shareholders.”
Bernie Ecclestone said: “I would like to welcome Liberty Media and Chase Carey to Formula 1 and I look forward to working with them.”
Earlier, the 85-year-old British businessman said in an interview with Reuters that he had been asked to stay on for three years and would miss the Singapore Grand Prix on September 18 as he needed be in London for the negotiations.
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