Three-times Formula One champion Niki Lauda has died at 70, months after having a lung transplant, his former racing team McLaren has confirmed.

"All at McLaren are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, colleague and 1984 Formula 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, has passed away," the team said.

"Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history."

Mr Lauda, who was hospitalised in January for about 10 days while suffering from influenza, died yesterday surrounded by family, according to a family statement published by Austrian media.

"His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain 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," the statement added.

Niki Lauda was badly burned in a crash during the 1976 season but returned to race shortly afterwards

Niki Lauda - F1 legend who made remarkable comeback

Tributes poured in for the Austrian, who was called a "legend" by British racing driver Jenson Button.

He tweeted: "A legend has left us. Rest in peace Niki."

Niki Lauda won three world titles in 1975, 1977 and 1984 with Mercedes and Ferrari.

He narrowly escaped death in 1976 when his Ferrari crashed at the Nurburgring in Germany.

He made a miraculous recovery despite horrific burns and finished second in the championship to James Hunt.

He went on to win two of his three titles as well as becoming a prominent figure in the aviation industry. 


Additional Reporting PA