A legend has left us - Button, Howard, Schwarzenegger pay tribute to F1 great Niki Lauda
Niki Lauda has been hailed as a "legend" of Formula One after the three-time world champion died on Tuesday.
Lauda, 70, is a much-revered figure in the sport and famously returned from a near-fatal crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring to finish fourth in the Italian Grand Prix six weeks later.
He won the world title the following year, adding to his 1975 triumph. Both of those successes came at Ferrari and, following time away from the sport, he pipped McLaren team-mate Alain Prost to glory in 1984.
Fellow former world champions Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg were among those to lead the tributes to the acclaimed Austrian, with Button declaring "a legend has left us".
Lauda was also an inspirational figure after he stopped racing, with Rosberg noting how the Mercedes non-executive chairman's expertise and advice helped him win a maiden F1 title in 2016.
Dear Niki... pic.twitter.com/nsJk2z1qAM— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) May 21, 2019
The last of Lauda's three world titles was won when he was a McLaren driver in 1984, and the team said he was "enshrined in our history".
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. #RIPNikipic.twitter.com/Ndd9ZEfm6B— McLaren (@McLarenF1) May 21, 2019
Mercedes have been the dominant force in F1 in recent years and Lauda's pivotal role behind the scenes was highlighted by team principal Toto Wolff.
“Our team has lost a guiding light. 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.” - Toto— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) May 21, 2019
It was not just F1 drivers and teams who were paying tribute to Lauda on Tuesday as former MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner described the Austrian as a "motorsport legend".
RIP Niki Lauda, a true Icon and Motorsport legend. Thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this time. pic.twitter.com/v6bOMZfsWc— Casey Stoner (@Official_CS27) May 21, 2019
And Oscar-winning director Ron Howard hailed Lauda's "keen intelligent and wisdom". The two met when Howard was directing the 2013 film 'Rush', a biographical movie looking at the rivalry between James Hunt and Lauda during the 1976 season.
RIP the Great #NikiLauda. Here’s our last meeting in #MonteCarlo in ‘18 We first met while making the movie Rush. The F1 world knows of his grit & intensely competitive spirit, but that matched w/his keen intelligence & wisdom made him a distinctively remarkable man. a force. pic.twitter.com/SMizNt9Hge— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) May 21, 2019
Lauda was one of Austria's most successful sportsmen and one of the nation's most famous figures - actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger - said his compatriot was an inspiration to Austrians.
Niki was a champion. He was an icon. He was an Austrian treasure. He was one of my dear friends. I will miss this generous, trailblazing hero with my whole heart. https://t.co/9Eq9jp4qMK— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) May 21, 2019