Niki Lauda - 1949-2019
It is with great sadness that 3-time World Champion Niki Lauda passed away last night. The Austrian, who was world champion is 1975, 1977 and 1984, had been suffering a period of ill health and was surrounded by his family in his closing moments in Zurich, Switzerland.
Blunt, honest and utterly determined Lauda is regarded as one of the greatest drivers the world of F1 has ever seen. His titanic battle with James Hunt in 1976 immortalised in the 2013 Rush gave Lauda new fans and the utmost respect to a driver who had cheated death.
At the 1976 German Grand Prix, Lauda's Ferrari burst into flames causing intensive scarring along the right side of his face and head. It was testament to the kind of man Lauda was that only 6 weeks later he returned at the Italian Grand Prix to finish a superb 4th and cemented his place amongst the greats.
For the past few years Lauda had been Chairman for the Mercedes F1 team and oversaw the most dominant period of success ever seen, with the team winning the last 5 drivers and constructors titles. Toto Wolff in his tribute said of Lauda "It was an honour to call you our Chairman - and my privilege to call you my friend".