3-time Formula 1 champion Niki Lauda dies

Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda The Canadian Press

Lauda, a three-time Drivers' Championship victor, still remains as the only person to have won a world title with Ferrari and McLaren.

Lewis Hamilton has taken to social media to post a tribute to his friend and colleague Niki Lauda, who sadly passed away on Tuesday morning. The Ron Howard movie also chronicled Lauda's crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix, where Lauda suffered third-degree burns to his head and face in the crash and also had burns in his lungs because of the significant fire that enveloped his auto.

The Austria Press Agency reported Lauda's family saying in a statement he "passed away peacefully" on Monday.

"His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable " Niki Lauda was well-known for often wearing a red cap. Lauda will be remembered not only for his world championships but also for his exceptional driving and better judgement on and off the track.

"Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history".

Lauda, who had kidney transplants in 1997 and 2005, had reportedly been in hostpital for dialysis treatment after kidney issues. Past year he bought back another airline he founded, Niki, after its new parent Air Berlin went bankrupt. Lauda suffered severe burns and was put into a coma, and lost most of his right ear, hair on the right side of his face, as well as his eyebrows and eyelids. He won 25 of his 171 career starts and missed just two races after that 1976 crash before returning to the series. It was in 1976 he survived the crash at the Nürburgring that left him badly burned.

He made a remarkable recovery and was back in a auto just six weeks later.

"The motorsport community today mourns the devastating loss of a true legend".

Besides their twins, a boy and a girl born in 2009, Lauda also had three sons from previous relationships.

The rivalry between the two men - which demonstrated the Austrian's extraordinary courage and fighting spirit - was portrayed in the 2013 film "Rush" by American director Ron Howard. "At Monza, I was rigid with fear".

Niki Lauda in 1982.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Lauda "fought himself back into life multiple times".

"Rest in peace Niki Lauda".

He had a near-fatal crash in 1976 when racing at the Nurburgring but despite suffering serious burns, he was soon back in his Ferrari with a modified helmet and went on to claim his second F1 title.

The Austrian has remained a key figure in the sport in recent years thanks to his role as non-executive chairman at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team since 2012.

He worked as a television commentator, a consultant for Ferrari in the 1990s and was team principal at the short-lived Jaguar team in the early 2000s.

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