Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda passes away!

Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70, his family has said.

The Austrian – a three-time world champion and the only man to have won the drivers’ title for both Ferrari and McLaren – passed away on Monday, less than a year after undergoing a lung transplant.

In a touching statement, his family said the racer-turned-flight entrepreneur would “remain a role model and a benchmark for all of us”.

Lauda won his first F1 championship in 1975, and was on course to retain his title the following year until a horrific near-fatal crash at the German Grand Prix at the famous Nurburgring.

He suffered severe burns to his head and face and suffered lung damage from inhaling toxic gases when his Ferrari burst into flames during the race, which came a week after he had urged his fellow drivers to boycott the event over safety concerns at the track.

The burns he suffered were the reason he was hardly ever seen without a cap from that point onward, as he wanted to hide the scarring.

Lauda made a successful return to F1 after his remarkable recovery – missing just two races before his comeback – and narrowly missed out on successive championships at the hands of British driver James Hunt.

The pair forged one of the fiercest rivalries in motorsport history and it inspired the award-winning 2013 film Rush, starring German actor Daniel Bruhl as Lauda and Chris Hemsworth as Hunt.

Lauda won his second championship in 1977 and his third in 1984, before retiring in 1985.

He had originally hung up his helmet six years prior to focus on his airline, Lauda Air, which he founded in 1979.

Lauda owned the company until 2000, when it became part of Austrian Airlines, and it ceased to exist in 2013, but he went on to take over Amira Air in 2016 and rename it to LaudaMotion.