F1 legend survived fire ball crash, fell to lung transplant

New Delhi, May 21: Three-time Formula One world champion Niki Lauda has passed away at the age of 70.

"With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday. His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain," his family said in a statement.

"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 added.

The F1 legend from Austria, who won the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984, passed away nine months after undergoing a lung transplant surgery.

He had a famous rivalry with British F1 legend James Hunt which inspired the Chris Hemsworth film 'Rush'.

The Austrian went through a death defying experience when he had a crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix. 

That incident saw him suffer extensive burn injuries after being engulfed in a massive ball of fire. He later made  remarkable recovery and returned to the F1 circuit.

He had competed in 171 Formula One races, winning 25 of them.

In January this year, he spent some 10 days in hospital while suffering from influenza.

News24 Bureau

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