The triple Formula 1 World Champion Niki Lauda is dead. This confirmed his doctor Walter Klepetko early Tuesday morning opposite the German Press Agency. According to media reports, a spokeswoman for the airline Laudamotion commented on the demise of the racing legend. “In deep sadness we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away on Monday, 20.05.2019, in the circle of his family,” she wrote and added: “His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable.” Lauda is named after the airline.
“His tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain a role model and standard for all of us,” the statement on Lauda's death continues. “Away from the public, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather, and he will be missed.”
Lauda had to fight his life time and again with health problems. In a serious accident in 1976 at the Nürburgring he suffered severe injuries to the skin and lungs. In August of last year he received a new lung. He was in the hospital until October. Only a few months later, in January, he had to go back to hospital for flu. Due to late effects of the accident Lauda had to undergo twice a kidney transplant.
42 days after the accident again in the cockpit
The racing driver also became legendary because he was already back in the cockpit of his car after only 42 days after the crash. The following World Cup duel with the British James Hunt can be seen in the 2013 released movie “Rush”. In his first race after the accident he finished fourth in Monza. “The quick return was part of my strategy of not sitting at home long and pondering why and why the whole thing happened to me,” he later said.
Lauda was since 2012 chairman of the supervisory board of the Mercedes team. On the occasion of his 70th birthday on February 22, he thanked the ORF for their congratulations in a short audio message and said: “I'll come back and it's full speed uphill.” Lauda has two sons from his first marriage and eight-year-old twins from his marriage to Birgit Lauda.
The first time Lauda won the world title in 1975. One year after the accident he won his second, 1984 his third world title. In 1985, he finally resigned, after which he joined a career as an entrepreneur. He founded his own airline. In 1991, an airline plane crashed in Thailand, killing 223 people. End of the 1990s, he sold Lauda to the competitor Austrian Airlines. In 2003 he started with a new fleet called Niki.
The founder also rose in 2011 at Niki. The company was acquired by Air Berlin. After the bankruptcies of Air Berlin and Niki, he took over again the lead at Niki and brought the company under the name Laudamotion back to the start. A little later, he brought Ryanair as a new shareholder in the boat.