Niki Lauda, non-executive chairman of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Formula 1, dies as 70, peacefully, surrounded by his family. He had undergone an emergency lung transplant in August 2018. A flu kept him the hospital for ten days in January. He had previously suffered two kidney transplants, the second donated by his then girlfriend.
The former Austrian driver with 25 victories in Formula 1, won the World Championship title in 1975 and 1977, driving a Ferrari, and in 1984, he won the title with McLaren.
In 1976, Lauda was involved in a terrible crash at the German Grand Prix. Other drivers picked him up to save his life from the car on fire on the Nurburgring racetrack, 55 seconds after the fire had started. 42 days later, Niki was again on the racetrack and one step away from the podium, in the Italian Grand Prix, even though he had suffered horrific burns and the smoke had caused him massive lung damage. Niki finished the season second, right behind his greatest rival, James Hunt.
The Austrian, a shareholder and non-executive president of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, declined to remove the scars off his face and head, explaining that everyone must see how rough Formula 1 was.
“Away from the public, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather. We will miss him”, his family says. The head Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team posted a condolence message early morning on Facebook, saying that Niki Lauda was his hero and the hero of many generations and that heroes never actually die.