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Former Formula One champion Niki Lauda dies at 70

VIENNA: Legendary Formula One driving force Niki Lauda has died on the age of 70, his family mentioned in a commentary launched to Austrian media early Tuesday.

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

Lauda's demise comes 8 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 commentary.

"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' international championship thrice, 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 workforce tweeted on their verified account.

Lauda had been non-executive chairman at Mercedes F1 since 2012 and he was once instrumental in bringing in Lewis Hamilton to spark a run of success that has introduced 5 consecutive international drivers' and constructors' championships.

During his driving occupation, Lauda suffered horrific injuries on August 1, 1976 when, having already won 5 races that season, his car burst into flames on the Nuerburgring in Germany.

He suffered severe burns on his face and arms, and inhaled poisonous fumes which damaged his lungs.

Despite being given the last rites in sanatorium he made an almost miraculous recovery to race once more just six weeks later nonetheless bandaged and in intense ache.

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