Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has paid tribute to non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, who died on Monday at the age of 70.
Lauda, who died peacefully on Monday evening, spent 10 days in hospital battling influenza in January, and underwent a lung transplant last August. In a truly remarkable racing career, the Austrian won three world titles and battled back from a life-threatening crash at the Nurburgring in 1976 to compete 40 days after being read the last rites.
More recently, Lauda had served as non-executive chairman to the Mercedes team, and Wolff says his impact on a personal and professional level was unmatched.
“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,” Wolff said.
“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 1. We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candor to modern Formula 1. 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. 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. 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 honor to call you our chairman – and my privilege to call you my friend.”