Austrian Formula One legend Niki Lauda dies at 70

Legendary Formula One driver Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70, his family said in a statement released to Austrian media early Tuesday.

Austrian Formula One legend Niki Lauda dies at 70
Photos: AFP

“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” the statement read.

Lauda's death comes eight months after he underwent a lung transplant.

“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain,” added the statement.

“A role model and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed.”

Lauda won the Formula One drivers' world championship three times, in 1975 and 1977 for Ferrari and in 1984 with McLaren.

“All at McLaren are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, colleague and 1984 Formula 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, has passed away. Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history. #RIPNiki,” his former team tweeted on their verified account.

Lauda had been non-executive chairman at Mercedes F1 since 2012 and he was instrumental in bringing in Lewis Hamilton to spark a run of success that has brought five consecutive world drivers' and constructors' championships.

During his driving career, Lauda suffered horrific injuries on August 1, 1976 when, having already won five races that season, his vehicle burst into flames on the Nuerburgring in Germany. 

He suffered severe burns on his face and hands, and inhaled toxic fumes which damaged his lungs.

Despite being given the last rites in hospital he made an almost miraculous recovery to race again just six weeks later still bandaged and in intense pain.

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Entrepreneur holds out hope for Danish Formula 1 race

A project to bring a Formula 1 event to Copenhagen has been officially scrapped, but one of the concept’s promotors has not yet given up hope of seeing the sport come to Denmark.

Entrepreneur holds out hope for Danish Formula 1 race
Driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi in November. Photo: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar/Ritzau Scanpix

Helge Sander, an entrepreneur, former MP and the primary backer of the original project, said that he was interested in finding an alternative Danish location for Formula 1.

“The positive vibe around Formula 1 has naturally caused other municipalities to react,” Sander said.

“If a sufficiently interesting project emerges elsewhere in Denmark, it should naturally be tried, provided the relevant practical, sustainable and economic conditions are fulfilled,” he said.

The municipalities in question do not currently wish to be named, Sander said, adding that the sport’s licensing body Formula One Management would have the final say on the matter.

But the Formula 1 calendar is evidence that any Danish Grand Prix would not have to be held in the country’s capital, he said.

The entrepreneur said he remained disappointed by the lack of government and municipal support for using the streets of Copenhagen as a race track.

Sander’s proposal for the city had been approved by the Formula 1 management in London and regulator FIA.

But that project is now officially over, despite two years of preliminary work costing several million Danish kroner.

The company used for the campaign, the Society for Promotion of Formula 1 in Copenhagen (Foreningen til Fremme af Formel 1 i København), has now been deregistered as a company and with tax authorities, Sander confirmed.

That comes after Copenhagen Lord Mayor said in September that he no longer viewed the concept as politically viable.

“We had to take in the shock of that announcement, but we have to accept that right now it is not possible to arrange a Formula 1 race in Copenhagen, even though I have received positive messages almost daily since the mayor’s announcement,” Sander said.

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