Former Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda dies

epa06235493 Chairman of Mercedes AMG Petronas Racing Team Niki Lauda is seen at the paddock area ahead of the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 30 September 2017. The 2017 Formula One Grand Prix of Malaysia will be held on 01 October. EPA-EFE/AHMAD YUSNI

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Three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70, nine months after undergoing a lung transplant.

Lauda “passed away peacefully” on Monday, his family said.

The legendary Austrian took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984.

Lauda narrowly escaped death in 1976 when his Ferrari crashed at the Nurburgring in Germany. He made a miraculous recovery despite horrific burns and finished second in the championship to James Hunt.

Tributes poured in for the Austrian, who was called a “legend” by British racing driver Jenson Button.

Lauda was also mourned by the McLaren Formula One team, who wrote: “All at McLaren are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, colleague and 1984 Formula 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, has passed away.

“Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history.”

His family added in their statement: “His unique successes as a sportsman and entrepreneur are and remain unforgettable.

“His tireless drive, his straightforwardness and his courage remain an example and standard for us all. Away from the public gaze, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather. We will miss him very much.”

Formula 1 - German Grand Prix

Over the past few decades, Lauda twice underwent kidney transplants, receiving an organ donated by his brother in 1997 and a kidney donated by his girlfriend in 2005.

In August last year, he underwent a lung transplant that the Vienna General Hospital said was made necessary by a “serious lung illness.”

The doctor that performed the transplant, Walter Klepetko, confirmed his death early on Tuesday morning, the Associated Press reported.

He is survived by his second wife, Birgit, their twin children Max and Mia, and two adult sons, Lukas and Mathias, from his first marriage.

via BBC /  County Press

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