Racing world pays tribute to Niki Lauda

Image by Etherington/LAT

Racing world pays tribute to Niki Lauda

Formula 1

Racing world pays tribute to Niki Lauda


Tributes have been pouring in from throughout the motorsport world following the death of Niki Lauda at the age of 70.

The three-time Formula 1 world champion passed away on Monday evening, nine months after undergoing a lung transplant. Many racing figures in Europe woke up to the news on Tuesday morning, and Ferrari – with which Lauda won titles in 1975 and 1977 – posted a short statement on social media:

Lauda’s third world championship came by just half a point in 1984 with McLaren, which issued a similar tweet (below), later followed by an additional tweet linking to an extended tribute, and another saluting Lauda’s famous rivalry with James Hunt.

Nico Rosberg worked with Lauda at Mercedes – where Rosberg won the 2016 drivers’ championship before immediately retiring – and wrote a note to the Austrian that he posted on his channels.

“Dear Niki, thank you for everything that you did for me,” Rosberg wrote. “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 are thinking of you and your family and wish that you rest in peace.”

There were also tributes from rival F1 teams, including Renault:

Formula 1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey issued a statement on behalf of the sport, following the death of one of its most successful drivers. Lauda won 25 grands prix, and only five drivers – Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio, Lewis Hamilton, Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel – have bettered his record of three championships.

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Niki Lauda,” Carey said. “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.”

FIA president and former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt described Lauda as “a hero of motor sport, who inspired me in my youth … he is a milestone in the history of F1.”

News of Lauda’s passing was felt throughout motorsport, with Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Simon Pagenaud saying the Austrian was his hero.

“Niki Lauda was a pure example of hard work pays off!” Pagenaud said. “He said he had a great ass and could feel everything the car was doing. My hero and I wish I was a Senna, but I often think I was born more like a Lauda! Thank you Niki for all that you gave the sport, sad you have left us.”

Lauda was also remembered by ACO president Pierre Fillon, who paid tribute to his spirit after the Austrian fought back from a serious crash at the Nurburgring in 1976 to race again just 40 days later.

“Motorsport involves machines, but it is about human endeavor more than anything,” Fillon said. “Some drivers make their mark on their discipline, some achieve greatness beyond the sport itself. Niki was one such driver. His attention to detail and fighting spirit was matched by his outstanding talent and admirable personality. His record is witness to that.

“He was also a great ambassador for motorsport and the values we uphold. He was a guide, a leader. To his son Mathias, a gifted endurance driver, and to all his loved ones, I offer my deepest sympathy at this most difficult time.”