‘The biggest comeback in sport’: Tributes paid to ‘true icon’ Niki Lauda
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Tributes have poured in from the world of motor racing and beyond following the death of Formula 1 great Niki Lauda.
The Austrian’s former teams McLaren and Ferrari and former F1 champion Jenson Button were among those hailing the “true legend” who died on Monday aged 70, less than a year after undergoing a lung transplant.
Formula 1 said Lauda was “forever immortalised in our history” following his incredible return to racing after a horrific near-fatal crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix.
McLaren said it was “deeply saddened” by the death of Lauda who won the 1984 F1 championship with the team.
And Ferrari, who celebrated winning the F1 drivers’ championship in 1975 and 1977 with Lauda, said he would “remain forever in our hearts”.
Oggi è un giorno triste per la F1. La grande famiglia della Ferrari apprende con profonda tristezza la notizia della morte dell’amico Niki Lauda, tre volte campione del mondo, due con la Scuderia (1975-1977). Resterai per sempre nei cuori nostri e in quelli dei tifosi. #CiaoNiki pic.twitter.com/srQUUeDqLw
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) May 21, 2019
Button, the 2009 F1 champion and former McLaren driver, posted an image of Lauda with the caption: “RIP Niki.”
Nico Rosberg, the 2016 F1 champion, posted a heartfelt tribute to Lauda, praising his “passion” and “fighting spirit”.
He added: “Myself and all of your 100 million fans around the world whom you also so strongly inspired to never give up in the hardest of times are thinking of you and your family and wish that you rest in peace.”
F1 star Romain Grosjean said a “legend is gone” following Lauda’s death.
Former F1 driver Giedo van der Garde said Lauda was “not only a huge inspiration with the biggest comeback in sport so far, but a unique personality as well”.
Saddened by the news of Niki Lauda. Not only a huge inspiration with the biggest comeback in sport so far, but a unique personality as well. Personally I’ll never forget him sticking up for me in Melbourne after my F1 career ended. Rest In Peace, Niki. pic.twitter.com/Hz0t3xSR36
— Giedo van der Garde (@GvanderGarde) May 21, 2019
Ex-British F1 driver and Sky Sports analyst Johnny Herbert said Lauda’s death was “a real loss to sport” and left “a big hole in our hearts”.
A real loss to sport and a big hole in our hearts. Courageous, chatty, and extremely funny. I am going to miss you being around the @F1 paddock but the legend of Niki Lauda will live on, because you were a very very special man. Thanks for all the memories #3timesWC @SkySportsF1 pic.twitter.com/aUIRML0lNv
— Johnny Herbert (@johnnyherbertf1) May 21, 2019
Away from Formula 1, two-time MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner described Lauda as a “true icon and motorsport legend”.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Lauda was a “role model” who “fought his way back to life several times”.