Legendary Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda dies aged 70

Legendary Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda has died aged 70.

He was considered one of the sport’s greatest ever drivers – and narrowly escaped death when he was trapped in a fireball inferno after crashing at the German Grand Prix in 1976.

But the Austrian made a miracle recovery and went on to win two of his three world championship titles.

Lauda’s family said in a statement that he had ‘passed away peacefully’.

His family said: ‘With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday.

‘His unique successes as a sportsman and entrepreneur are and remain unforgettable.

‘His tireless drive, his straightforwardness and his courage remain an example and standard for us all.

‘Away from the public gaze, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather.

‘We will miss him very much.’

Lauda, who won three world titles in 1975, 1977 and 1984 with Mercedes and Ferrari, died months after having a lung transplant.

He twice underwent kidney transplants, receiving an organ donated by his brother in 1997 and a kidney donated by his girlfriend in 2005.

In later years, he served as the non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team and formed a close bond with driver Lewis Hamilton, who joined the team in 2013.

Formula One paid tribute to Lauda, tweeting: ‘Forever carried in our hearts, forever immortalised in our history.

‘The motorsport community today mourns the devastating loss of a true legend.’

Lauda is survived by his second wife Birgit, and his children, Max, Mia, Mathias, Lukas and Christoph.