Niki Lauda was Mercedes' guiding light - Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff has described Niki Lauda as the ‘guiding light’ of the Mercedes Formula 1 team and paid further tribute to the sporting legend, who passed away peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday after receiving a lung transplant last August.
During the 1976 German Grand Prix, the Austrian was badly burned in a life-threatening crash, only to make a miraculous return to F1 just six weeks later in Italy.
A three-time world champion, Lauda subsequently moved into an advisory role in F1 and became Mercedes’ non-executive chairman, and it was within this period that a professional and personal friendship was created with Wolff.
The current Silver Arrows team principal released a statement in memoriam of his friend on Tuesday.
“First of all, on behalf of the team and all at Mercedes, I wish to send our deepest condolences to Birgit, Niki’s children, his family and close friends,” the statement read.
“Niki will always remain one of the greatest legends of our sport – he combined heroism, humanity, and honesty inside and outside the cockpit.
“His passing leaves a void in Formula One. We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to the modern Formula One. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense.
“Our Mercedes team has also lost a guiding light. As a team-mate over the past six and a half years, Niki was always brutally honest – and utterly loyal. It was a privilege to count him among our team and moving to witness just how much it meant to him to be part of the team’s success. Whenever he walked the floor in Brackley and Brixworth, or delivered one of his famous motivational speeches, he brought an energy that nobody else could replicate.
“Niki, you are quite simple irreplaceable, there will never be another like you.
“It was our honour to call you our Chairman – and my privilege to call you my friend.”
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