Yesterday, the racing world woke to the news that three-time Formula 1 World Champion Niki Lauda had passed away. As we approach Monaco, the most prestigious of races on the F1 calendar, it is worth recalling that this is an event Lauda himself won twice out of his 25 career race wins. No doubt many a driver on the grid will be paying tribute to the sensational Austrian racing car driver. Following such heart breaking news yesterday, this is how those who knew him paid tribute on social media.
In 2017, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton’s titanic battle for the championship led to Lauda frequently being called on in the media to apportion blame to one driver or the other and as a result many sound bites came from the great man. For Rosberg’s tribute he wrote the words:
"I learned so much from you. Your passion, your fighting spirit, your belief that you always meet twice in life, and even your patience with us youngsters. Myself and all of your 100 million fans around the world who you inspired to never give up in the hardest of times are thinking of you and your family."
Other drivers on the grid also shared their thoughts:
Valtteri Bottas: "RIP Niki #legend."
Carlos Sainz Jr: "Very sad to hear that Niki Lauda has passed away One of the last proper heroes of our sport, a true gentleman, and a great human."
Sergio Perez: "I’ll never forget that one of the few times that you took your hat off was for me. My condolences to his family RIP."
Max Verstappen: "Shocked by the loss of Niki Lauda. He was a true legend in our sport and someone I had great respect for. May he rest in peace #RIPNiki."
Lewis Hamilton, a man who had an extremely close relationship with his confidant Niki Lauda told his followers:
I’m struggling to believe you are gone. I will miss our conversations, our laughs, the big hugs after winning races together. God rest your soul. Thank you for being a bright light in my life. I’ll always be here for your family should they ever need me. Love you man.
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff remarked in detail on his close friend as being:
"quite simply irreplaceable. Niki will always remain one of the greatest legends of our sport - he combined heroism, humanity and honesty inside and outside the cockpit. We haven't just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula One. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense. Our Mercedes team has also lost a guiding light. As a team-mate over the past six and a half years, Niki was always brutally honest - and utterly loyal. It was a privilege to count him among our team and moving to witness just how much it meant to him to be part of the team's success. Whenever he walked the floor in Brackley and Brixworth, or delivered one of his famous motivational speeches, he brought an energy that nobody else could replicate."
Niki Lauda was very successful during his time at Ferrari and their official Twitter account made reference to this:
"Everyone at Ferrari is deeply saddened at the news of the death of our dear friend Niki Lauda. He won two of his three world championships with us and will always be in our hearts and in those of all Ferrari fans. Our sincere condolences go to all his family and friends. #CiaoNiki."
The 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill wrote:
“Bye bye Niki. You gave us all great life lessons and memories.”
FIA president Jean Todt’s Twitter remarks stated:
"Niki Lauda was a hero of motor sport, who inspired me in my youth. He is a milestone in the history of @F1. All my thoughts go out to his family, friends and @MercedesAMGF1 team."
What many can take comfort from is the fact that this humble, generous kind-hearted racer was surrounded by his family for his last moments 43 years after a horrific crash in Germany many expected Lauda never to walk away from and what a remarkable life he led.
Niki Lauda: 25 victories, 54 podiums, 24 fastest laps and three World Championships (1975, 1977, 1984)
A true legend of Formula 1 racing, may he rest in peace.