Niki Lauda

Three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70.

Lauda, who underwent a lung transplant in August, "passed away peacefully" on Monday, his family said.

The legendary Austrian, one of the best-known figures in motor racing, took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984.

For many, he 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 Lauda in the acclaimed 2013 film Rush, which detailed his rivalry with British driver James Hunt, the 1976 world champion.

Who was Niki Lauda?

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.

  • 'A remarkable life lived in Technicolor'

However, he was probably best-known for surviving a crash during the 1976 season which left him scarred for life. 

Niki Lauda and James Hunt, Grand Prix of Sweden, Anderstorp Raceway, 09 June 1974

Image captionLauda (right) and his rival, British driver James Hunt, in 1974

On 1 August 1976, one year after winning his first title, he 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. 

He was given the last rites in hospital but made an almost miraculous recovery and returned to racing, still bandaged, just 40 days later.

The aftermath of the 1976 crash

Image captionThe aftermath of the 1976 crash

After his career as a racing driver, he 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.

"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.

However, ill health followed him into his later years and he underwent a lung transplant in August 2018.

Niki Lauda

Image captionLauda photographed in March 1976

He 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, Lauda spent 10 days in hospital while suffering from influenza. 

Lauda leaves behind his wife, their twins born in 2009, and three sons from previous relationships.


Edited by Benjamin
‹‹ 1 Last
(Pages: 1 )