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The F1 world has been paying tribute to Niki Lauda
Lauda was a champion, mentor, chairman and friend...
Those involved in the sport often describe the Formula One paddock as feeling like a family. We hear it said so often, but it’s rare that the public are granted a glimpse of what bonds rival teams, drivers and engineers.
Niki Lauda’s passing at the age of 70 though has led to an outpouring of grief that transcends partisan conflict – and proves just what an inspiration he was to so many.
The Austrian’s natural-born speed was proven by his three world titles, his bravery by the ability to get back behind the wheel just 40 days after his fiery accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix, and his doggedness by standing-up to one Enzo Ferrari when refusing to race in torrential rain at the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix the same year.
After retiring from driving, Lauda would go on to work behind the scenes in F1 for Ferrari, Jaguar and most-recently Mercedes. He was a legend, and was one of the most respected people in the paddock. So, who better to hear from than those who would have considered him part of their family for so many years…
“I’m struggling to believe you are gone. I will miss our conversations, our laughs, the big hugs after winning races together. God rest your soul. Thank you for being a bright light in my life. I’ll always be here for your family should they ever need me. Love you man.”
Toto Wolff, Mercedes-AMG F1 team principal
“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.
“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.”
Piero Ferrari, Ferrari VP
“This is a very sad day for me, having been fortunate to have actually seen him race and also for all fans of Ferrari and Formula 1.
“Niki leaves us having suffered so much and that is painful for me. He won so much with Ferrari and with other teams too and he always remained a friend. He was a fantastic driver, an accomplished businessman and an amazing person. I will miss him.”
“Despite being a rival both on track and in business, Niki remained a friend of the McLaren team, and he will be much missed by all in Woking. The team extends its condolences to his family and his many friends in the sport.”
Jean Todt, president of the FIA
“Niki Lauda was a hero of motorsport, who inspired me in my youth. He is a milestone in the history of F1.”
Jenson Button, former world champion
“A legend has left us. Rest in peace Niki.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
“Shocked by the loss of Niki Lauda. He was a true legend in our sport and someone I had great respect for. May he rest in peace.”
Damon Hill, former world champion
“Bye bye Niki. You gave us all great life lessons and memories.”
Martin Brundle, broadcaster and ex-F1 driver
“Oh no. The man himself is no longer with us. A great human being, determined, relentless, talented, passionate, forthright, honest, humble, and great company. Living on borrowed time since his awful crash in 1976, he certainly made the absolute most of that gift. RIP Niki.”
Nico Rosberg, former world champion
“Dear Niki. Thank you for everything that you did for me. I learned so much from you. Your passion, your fighting spirit, to never give up, your belief that you always meet twice in life, and even your patience with us youngsters. 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 and are thinking of you and your family and wish that you rest in peace.”
Chase Carey, chairman and CEO of Formula 1
“It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Niki Lauda. Formula 1 has lost not only one of the truly great exponents of the sport but also one of its heroes.
“His love of racing and the courage he demonstrated were simply extraordinary and he inspired so many fans. His passing is a great loss for the entire Formula 1 family and motorsport as a whole. All our thoughts go out to his family.”