Lewis Hamilton chats to Niki Lauda

Tributes flood in for Niki Lauda after passing of F1 legend

Tributes have flooded in following the passing of three-time Formula 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, who died yesterday at the age of 70.

Austrian Lauda won the won the Championship in 1975 and 1977 with Scuderia Ferrari and again in 1984 with McLaren. But he is perhaps best known for his famous 1976 comeback when, having almost succumbed to injuries sustained in a horrific crash in Hockenheim, he returned to racing just 40 days later.

The story of that epic championship battle, won by James Hunt by a single point in the final race in Fuji, was made into a 2013 movie, ‘Rush’ with Daniel Bruhl portraying the Austrian driver.

Lauda’s love for the sport continued after his racing career as he took management roles with Scuderia Ferrari, Jaguar Racing and most successfully with Mercedes, helping the Silver Arrows win multiple titles as nonexecutive chairman.

“First of all, on behalf of the team and all at Mercedes, I wish to send our deepest condolences to Birgit, Niki’s children, his family and close friends,” commented team boss, Toto Wolff. “Niki will always remain one of the greatest legends of our sport – he combined heroism, humanity and honesty inside and outside the cockpit.

“His passing leaves a void in Formula 1. We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula 1. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense. Our Mercedes team has also lost a guiding light.”

Another close friend of Lauda was 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, who tweeted, “Dear Niki. Thank you for everything that you did for me. I learned so much from you. Your passion, your fighting spirit, to never give up, you belief that you always meet twice in life, and even your patience with us youngsters. Myself and all of your 100 million fans around the world whom you also so strongly inspired to never give up in the hardest of times are thinking of you and your family and wish that you rest in peace.”

The terms, ‘hero’ and ‘legend’ are often banded about too lightly but there is no doubt that both of these apply for the forever popular Austrian.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.