Formula 1 legend and racing titan Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70, his family has confirmed.
“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” his family said in a statement.
“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain.
“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.”
The Austrian’s battle with James Hunt for the 1976 F1 title is considered one of the greatest championship fights in the sport’s history.
The then-defending F1 champion suffered a horrific crash at the ’76 German grand prix, but Lauda was back racing just six weeks later.
He won two further world titles in ’77, and ’84, and amassed 25 wins, 54 podiums, 24 fastest laps, 24 pole positions, and 420.5 career points across 171 race starts in F1.
Lauda’s career is also unique for his hiatus from F1 between 1979 and 1982, with the sport’s statesman returning from retirement to win a third championship with McLaren.
In recent years Lauda has become a stalwart of the Formula 1 paddock in his role as a non-executive chairman for Mercedes-AMG.
He joined the German manufacturer in 2012, and had a pivotal role in the team’s signing of Lewis Hamilton.
Lauda had undergone a number of surgeries recently, including a lung transplant five months ago.
According to reports from Europe, Lauda’s latest sickness began when on holiday in Ibiza. As his condition worsened he flew back to Vienna, and underwent an operation on his kidneys.