Lauda’s name was up there with the all-time greats.
Three-time Formula One champion Niki Lauda, a legend who made a remarkable comeback after a horrendous accident in 1976, has died at the age of 70. Apart from holding as many F1 titles as he did, he also had a drive and straightforwardness that endeared him to motorsport enthusiasts all over the world. His family said in a statement, as reported by the Washington Post, “Away from the public gaze he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather. We will miss him very much.”
Rising rapidly through his early racing career, Lauda began racing in F1 in 1972. Despite a tough few seasons, he caught a break in 1974 when he signed with Ferrari. He won his first championship title in 1975.
One of the most remarkable things people know Niki Lauda for, however, is his crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix. His accident on the Nürburgring caused extensive burns to his head. The crash and his rivalry with British Driver James Hunt was documented in the 2013 film “Rush”.
The crash didn’t stop the defiant man, however, as he came back to win the F1 championship in 1977, just a year after his crash. His third and last F1 title came in 1984.
“His unique successes as a sportsman and entrepreneur are and remain unforgettable,” Lauda’s family said. Formula 1’s official Twitter account also put out a short statement on the motorsport legend. “Forever carried in our hearts, forever immortalised in our history. The motorsport community today mourns the devastating loss of a true legend.”
Niki Lauda retired after the 1985 campaign, and returned to his native Austria to run Lauda Air, a charter airline company he founded. During his time as an airline manager, he remained a consultant at Ferrari. He also managed the Jaguar Formula One racing team from 2001 to 2001.