London, May 21 (IANS) Three-time Formula One world champion Niki Lauda has passed away, his family has confirmed. He was 70.
The legendary Austrian, who took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984, died on Monday, nine months after undergoing surgery for a lung transplant, reports the BBC.
“(He was) a role model and a benchmark for all of us,” said his family in a statement.
“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain a role model and a benchmark for all of us,” the statement added.
Lauda, whose famous rivalry with British F1 legend James Hunt inspired the Chris Hemsworth film ‘Rush’, will be remembered for his remarkable recovery and return to racing after being badly burned in a crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix.
By the time Lauda ended his racing career in 1985, with his last race coming in Adelaide, he had competed in 171 Formula One races, winning 25 of them and standing on the podium 54 times.
In January this year, he spent some 10 days in hospital while suffering from influenza.