Formula One legend Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70, his family have confirmed.
The three-time world champion passed away peacefully overnight on Monday (AEST) – eight months after undergoing a lung transplant.
According to reports from Austria, he initially became ill while on holiday in Ibiza and flew back to Vienna for treatment.
However, his condition worsened leading to doctors deciding to operate.
“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” his family said in a statement.
“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.”
Lauda, who famous rivalry with British F1 legend James Hunt inspired the Chris Hemsworth film Rush, won three world championships in 1975, 1977 and 1984.
During his battle with Hunt, Lauda was left with severe burns to his face, body and lungs after a near-fatal crash in 1976 but amazingly not only came back to the sport but won the world title the following year.
As well as the burns to his lungs, Lauda also had two kidney transplants as a result of the crash, from his brother in 1997 and from his wife in 2005.
Since retiring from the sport for good in 1985, Lauda was still a prominent figure in the F1 paddock after being appointed as Mercedes’ non-executive chairman in 2012, playing a big role in persuading now five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton to join the team.