Niki Lauda, one of the most legendary drivers in the history of Formula 1, has died at the age of 70. The three-time world champion, who had been in ill health since a lung operation conducted in August of last year, passed away peacefully in his sleep early on Tuesday morning.
Lauda won the title twice with Ferrari in the 1970's, and he battled back from a near-fatal crash at the German Grand Prix in 1976, during which a large portion of his body suffered serious burns, to collect the crown in 1977.
He then completed his hat-trick in 1984 while driving for McLaren.
In a statement released by Lauda's family, they remarked upon his coverage in recovering from a career-threatening injury to continue his drive for success.
'Niki will be enshrined in our history'Jenson Button
It reads: "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."
It was in 1976 at the Nurburgring that Lauda's life was almost ended, after his car caught fire causing third-degree burns to his head and face. But incredibly he battled back against all the odds to compete again that season, his face bandaged to cover his wounds.
Upon retirement Lauda would eventually return to the sport as a non-executive chairman for Mercedes and played a crucial role in the development of Lewis Hamilton as he matured into a five-time world champion.
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