Niki Lauda, three-time Formula 1 world champion, has passed away at the age of 70.
Lauda's family confirmed that he had 'passed away peacefully' and while he was hospitalised with influenza as recently as January, the cause of death remains unknown.
"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," his family's statement explained.
Lauda was one of the most recognisable figures in the paddock after his retirement and will rightfully be remembered as a legend for his performances on the track.
The Austrian was crowned world champion with Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, before claiming a third and final title with McLaren in 1984.
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Niki Lauda 1949-2019
However, Lauda will perhaps remain most famous for his return to the sport after suffering a terrible crash and life-threatening burns at the 1976 German Grand Prix.
Despite being given his last rites at the hospital, Lauda made an astonishing recovery and became inspired to make a return after seeing rival James Hunt succeeding in his absence.
In what surely must be considered sport's greatest comeback, he returned to the seat of his Ferrari just 40 days later and still with his multiple burns bandaged.
A sporting legend
Lauda eventually retired from racing after the 1985 season and turned his hand to airline entrepreneurship, launching the recognisable Austrian brand 'LaudaMotion.'
However, he always maintained his love for Formula One and kept a close association with Mercedes, inheriting the role of a non-executive chairman.
It's believed that he played a crucial role in bringing Lewis Hamilton to the team, who would go on to win world championship titles in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.
Support has poured in Lauda, with a number of both current and retired F1 drivers mourning his passing and the F1 community has come together amidst the sad news.
Upon hearing the news, McLaren tweeted: "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."
Our thoughts go to Lauda's family and everybody affected by his tragic passing.News Now - Sport News