Sporting world mourns death of F1 legend Niki Lauda
Updated 16:42, 23-May-2019
Legendary Formula One driver Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70, his family said on Tuesday, triggering an outpouring of praise for a man whose track victories and comeback from a horrific crash enthralled race fans worldwide.
Lauda won the Formula One drivers' world championship three times, in 1975 and 1977 for Ferrari and in 1984 with McLaren, despite a terrible race crash in 1976.
"Forever carried in our hearts, forever immortalized in our history. The motorsport community today mourns the devastating loss of a true legend," Formula 1 said on Twitter.
Five times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton hailed Lauda as "a bright light" in his life and said he would not have moved to Mercedes without the late Austrian's involvement.
"My buddy, I am struggling to believe you are gone," Hamilton posted on Instagram ahead of this weekend's showcase Monaco Grand Prix.
"I will miss our conversations, our laughs, the big hugs after winning races together."
"Really shocking news to start the week,” said Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes' driver, “for sure he meant a lot to me but for every single team member of ours in the race team and at the factory he was a big part of the Mercedes family. He was a massive motivation for everyone, for me as well. For sure as a driver, everything he's achieved and with a difficult career he had and all the comebacks and everything but also as a person it's been, it's been great, and I'll never forget many, many good moments." 
Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda in Monte Carlo, 1996. /VCG Photo

Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda in Monte Carlo, 1996. /VCG Photo

Lauda had been non-executive chairman at Mercedes F1 since 2012 and was instrumental in persuading Hamilton to leave McLaren, where he won his first title in 2008, and join Mercedes at a time when the German constructor had yet to emerge as a dominant force.
Meanwhile, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Lauda was "irreplaceable" and that the team had lost "a guiding light."
"Everyone at Ferrari is deeply saddened at the news of the death of our dear friend Niki Lauda," Ferrari said on its Twitter account.
"You know he wrote a big chunk of story of this sport, not only as a driver but as a person. I never had the opportunity to work with him but definitely, he was a big racer and yeah we'll miss him. I think at least my personal hopes were to meet him back in the paddock, but unfortunately, that did not happen. Yeah, that's, unfortunately, part of life," said Robert Kubica, Williams' driver. 
(With input from AFP and Reuters, CGTN's Hu Shichen also contributed to the story.)