Former F1 champion Lauda dead at 70

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By Euronews  with REUTERS SPORT (EN)
Former F1 champion Lauda dead at 70
Copyright  REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

Three-times Formula One champion Niki Lauda has died at 70, months after receiving a lung transplant, his former racing team McLaren confirmed on Tuesday.

"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. #RIPNiki," the team wrote on Twitter.

Lauda died on Monday surrounded by family, according to a family statement published by Austrian media.

"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, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed," the statement said.

He had been hospitalised in January for about 10 days while suffering from influenza.

Lauda won world titles in 1975, 1977 and 1984.

Other racing champions took to social media to pay tribute to the legend. Jenson Button, a 2009 racing champion tweeted that "a legend has left us."

Born in Vienna in 1949, he entered Formula One in the 1970s. In 1976, he was left with severe burns at the German Grand Prix. But he later returned to racing.

"Niki was the ultimate F1 maverick," George Levy from the American Motorsports Hall of Fame told Euronews.

"He became one of the great drivers of the 70s... and when he came back in 84 he again showed his character."