The Formula 1 paddock, Motorsport community and the world paid their tributes and respects to three-time F1 world champion Niki Lauda, who passed away at age 70.
The Austrian driver won three world championships with Ferrari and McLaren, as well as being a influence at Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport as their non-executive chairman.
Lauda was well known for his speed, determination, talent and his will to win. He will be remembered best for his remarkable bravery, having survived a near-fatal accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix. Despite suffering burns to his face, Lauda returned behind the wheel of his Ferrari six weeks later.
His outstanding bravery and comeback has been popularly labelled as one of the greatest sporting comebacks yet, having lived through a terrifying accident when the cars were at their dangerous in F1.
The Austrian was a popular and well-spoken figure in the paddock and his presence will dearly be missed. He past away on Monday 20th May in his sleep.
The news of Lauda’s passing saw everyone within F1 and Motorsport community pay their respects. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said that Mercedes and F1 has lost a guiding light.
“Our team has lost a guiding light. 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.” – Toto
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) May 21, 2019
Reigning F1 world champion and championship leader Lewis Hamilton shared his tribute online ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Lauda played an role into bringing Hamilton to Mercedes during the 2012 season, that eventually leading to the Brit joining the Silver Arrows in 2013 where he would win four titles.
Hamilton says it has been an honour working alongside the Austrian for seven years and that he will miss the special moments he had with Niki.
Lauda raced with Ferrari between 1974 to 1977, winning two of his titles with the Scuderia. His third came with McLaren in 1984, winning by half a point to team-mate Alain Prost.
The Italian team paid their respects with team principal Mattia Binotto calling Lauda a ‘fearless knight’.
Former Formula 1 CEO and team principal of Brabham, the team Lauda raced with in 1978 and 1979, Bernie Ecclestone shared his thoughts and paid his respects to his former driver and friend.
Former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone remembers Niki Lauda ❤️ pic.twitter.com/WZ6qFZ6tv0
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) May 21, 2019
Celebrities also paid their tribute to Lauda over his passing. Fellow Austrian actor Arnold Schwarzenegger shared his respects online, calling his fellow countryman a champion, icon and Austrian figure.
Niki was a champion. He was an icon. He was an Austrian treasure. He was one of my dear friends. I will miss this generous, trailblazing hero with my whole heart. https://t.co/9Eq9jp4qMK
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) May 21, 2019
German actor and the person who played Niki Lauda in the film Rush, Daniel Brühl shared his thoughts via Instagram. The actor spent time with Lauda prior to filming Rush and learned what the Austrian was like in real-life. Brühl was nominated nine times for his role as Lauda in the film.
He posted a picture of Lauda in the cockpit of a plane, captioning how he learned a lot from ‘the bravest man’
View this post on Instagram
The bravest man, I’ve ever met, not only because he was an F1 World Champion in the crazy 70’s and had the most incredible comeback in sport’s history, but also because of how he treated people. Always honest, straight forward, blunt. Niki told you the truth to your face, no matter how uncomfortable. He was totally unpretentious and incredibely funny. I learned a lot from him and deeply admired him. I know how much you enjoyed flying. Race the sky in peace immortal Champ, we’ll miss you. Mach’s gut Niki.
James Hunt’s son, Freddie Hunt paid his tribute online. Both James and Niki’s relationship was special in a sense that after Hunt’s F1 career was over, Niki continually supported his friend as he battled through troubled times within his life. James eventually cleaned up his life and was a regular commentator alongside Murray Walker. But sadly in 1993, Hunt would pass away in his sleep due to a heart attack.
Niki befriended James’ son Freddie and has continued to support both Freddie and the Hunt family. Freddie said on his Twitter that he was thankful for the support and advice he gave over the years.
Words cannot describe how sad I am to hear of Niki's death. He was a truly great friend of dad's and the whole Hunt family! He gave me so much great advice over the years. My thoughts go out to Mathias and the whole Lauda family. #RIPNiki #HuntLauda pic.twitter.com/ypbfe22RAo
— Freddie Hunt (@freddiehunt76) May 21, 2019