We were struck in the Formula One community this morning after the sad passing of former three-time Formula One Champion (1975, 1977 and 1984), Non-Executive Chairman of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team and one of the all-time greats in the world of Motorsport, Niki Lauda.
Niki had an incredibly passionate love for racing, and even in his older age would speak to drivers and the media in absolute brutal honesty, but with a sense of class and desire to maintain Formula One as the pinnacle of world-class Motorsport.
Famously involved in his rivalry with James Hunt, he was immortalised in Hollywood film after the movie ‘Rush’ was released in 2013, this depicted the worlds apart that the two drivers may have lived their lives, but how their on-track battles and championship fights brought the two together as friends.
After winning his first World Title in 1975, Niki survived a horrendous crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix which saw his Ferrari engulfed in flames, and after being given the ‘last rites’ in a hospital bed with severe burns and lung damage, the remarkable Austrian driver recovered and only missed two races, returning at the Italian Grand Prix less than six weeks later where he was immediately back on the pace, and even in excruciating pain came home fourth. Then going on to take a second championship a season later in 1977 and then again in 1984 as part of McLaren.
It’s this story, that for me cements Niki Lauda as the single greatest ‘comeback’ story in sporting history, on the track or off.
From the virtual world to the real-world Formula One, Invictus Racing League and it’s community sends its sympathies and positive thoughts to the friends, family and colleagues of Niki.
The Formula One world has lost another legend, but Niki was an incredible man who accomplished incredible things.
May he rest in peace.