Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport Team principal Toto Wolff pays tribute to former three-time Formula 1 world champion and Mercedes’ chairman Niki Lauda; honoring the privilege of calling him chairman and friend in his stint with the Silver Arrows
The former Ferrari and McLaren F1 world champion passed away Monday evening at the age of 70. Lauda is known throughout Formula 1 and in Motorsport for his speed, determination and talent displayed behind a wheel of a car that has led to him clinching three world championships.
But it was also his bravery and sheer will of never giving up that will be remembered most about Lauda – after coming back 40 days after suffering a near fatal accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix around the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit. The tales of that day, his remarkable comeback against all odds and his rivalry with British driver James Hunt was recreated in the 2013 film Rush.
After his F1 career in 1985, Lauda set up his own airline business “Lauda Air” before he returned to the sport as a consultant as Ferrari in 1993. Lauda had a short stint as team principal with Jaguar before leaving in 2002, where he became a pundit for German Television. In 2012, Lauda joined forces with Mercedes as a non-executive chairman and was a figure that helped brought in Lewis Hamilton to the team for the 2013 season.
Lauda worked closely alongside Toto Wolff during his stint at Mercedes, acting as an adviser for the team during their successful stint in the V6 Hybrid era. Lauda had a period of ill health towards the second half of 2018 and on May 20th, passed away in his sleep at University Hospital Zurich at 70 years old.
Wolff pays his respects to Lauda and says that he leaves a void in F1, being a hero for his remarkable comeback and his voice of common sense within the sport and at Mercedes.
“First of all, on behalf of the team and all at Mercedes, I wish to send our deepest condolences to Birgit, Niki’s children, his family and close friends,” said Wolff.
“Niki will always remain one of the greatest legends of our sport – he combined heroism, humanity and honesty inside and outside the cockpit.
“His passing leaves a void in Formula One. We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula One. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense.
“Our Mercedes team has also lost a guiding light. As a team-mate over the past six and a half years, Niki was always brutally honest – and utterly loyal.”
Lauda worked closely alongside Wolff during his stint at Mercedes, acting as an adviser for the team during their successful stint in the V6 Hybrid era. As well as his knowledge of the sport, Lauda was also a well spoken figure for the sport and for Mercedes, being a leader alongside Wolff through their period together in F1.
Lauda had a period of ill health towards the second half of 2018 and on May 20th, passed away in his sleep at University Hospital Zurich at 70 years old.
“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,” added Wolff. “Whenever he walked the floor in Brackley and Brixworth, or delivered one of his famous motivational speeches, he brought an energy that nobody else could replicate.
“Niki, you are quite simple irreplaceable, there will never be another like you.
“It was our honour to call you our Chairman – and my privilege to call you my friend.”