Motorsport: Formula One legend Niki Lauda dies after undergoing kidney dialysis
21 May, 2019, 11:45
Formula 1 legend and racing titan Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70, his family has confirmed.
Lauda underwent an emergency lung transplant in a Vienna hospital in August 2 a year ago after contracting an infection in his lungs, which were scarred and weakened by the effects of inhaling high-temperature smoke during the 1976 accident.
The Austria Press Agency reported Lauda's family, saying in a statement he "passed away peacefully" on Monday.
Austrian Lauda, who was hospitalised in January for about 10 days while suffering from influenza and had a lung transplant last August, died on Monday (May 20), his family said in a statement. Away from the public gaze he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather.
Lauda, who won three titles in 1975, 1977 and in 1984, has received two kidney transplants already in 1997 and 2005.
The F1 titan was severely burned in a near-fatal crash in 1976 and incredibly came back to the sport, winning his second world championship a year later.
In 2012, Lauda joined reigning champions Mercedes as non-executive chairman, playing a key role in the team's present success, with the Silver Arrows taking five back-to-back Drivers' and Constructors' Championships in Formula 1's V6 Turbo Hybrid era. "I was really lucky in a way that I didn't do any (other) damage to myself".
Just six weeks after his shocking crash, Lauda made his comeback at the Italian Grand Prix, finishing fourth at Monza after overcoming his initial fears.
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He recalled "shaking with fear" as he changed into second gear on the first day of practice and thinking, "I can't drive".
Lauda had taken his maiden Formula One world championship for Ferrari the previous year and was leading the standings when on August 1, 1976, his vehicle plunged off the track for never-explained reasons and burst into flames on the notorious 22.8-kilometre (14-mile) long Nuerburgring in Germany.
The crash came a week after Niki urged his fellow drivers to boycott the race, largely due to his safety concerns.
His partnership with McLaren yielded a third world title, when he clinched the 1984 championship by just half a point, edging out teammate Alain Prost. While badly scarred and left with permanent breathing problems, he went on to win two more driver's titles to add to the one he had landed the year before the accident.
Before retiring from the track, the racer launched Lauda Air in 1979.
Lauda, known as a tough businessman, sold the airline in the 1990s.
He is also an airline entrepreneur and recently agreed to sell his controlling stake in Laudamotion to Ryanair.
Lewis Hamilton and Niki Lauda past year. In 2004, he went on to create the profitable low-priced carrier Niki, selling it to Germany's Air Berlin in 2011.
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