Niki Lauda: Three-time F1 World Champion, Dies At the Age of 70

Three-time Formula One victor Niki Lauda, who recovered from a close deadly mishap to end up one of motor racing’s greatest drivers, has died aged 70, according to Reuters.

The Austrian, who built a new career as an airline entrepreneur afte leaving the track, passed on Monday following a time of declining health, the news agency detailed. Lauda was hospitalized recently this year with influenza and underwent a lung transplant last year.

Lauda won F1 titles with Ferrari and McLaren in 1975, 1977 and 1984, with two of the successes coming after the crash that almost cost him his life.

Destined to a well off family in Vienna, he had been expected to pursue his father into the paper manufacturing industry. Rather, he went into motorsport and joined Ferrari in 1974.

At the 1976 German Grand Prix, Lauda collided into a barrier and his car went up on flames. He breathed in toxic exhaust and endured awful consumes that left him near death and with permanent facial scaring.

By and by, he came back to racing just six weeks later..

The 1976 race – and Lauda’s contention with British F1 driver James Hunt – was the subject of the acclaimed 2013 film “Rush” featuring Australian actor Chris Hemsworth.

In a 2016 meeting with CNN, Lauda cautioned that presenting an excessive number of security measures would harm Formula One.

“Why are we watching?” Lauda said. “Good racing, a bit of danger — always there. And unbelievable driver performance to keep these cars under control.”

“My opinion is, if we continue only to think of making it 110% about the safety issues, we’re going to destroy Formula One.”

Outside of racing, Lauda established three Austrian airlines: Lauda Air, Fly Niki, and Laudamotion. He also served as a non-executive chairman of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix.

The McLaren F1 team said it was deeply saddened by the news of his death.

“Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history,” the team tweeted Tuesday.