Former Formula One driver Niki Lauda passes away at 70

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Vienna: The former Formula One driver and three-time world champion Niki Lauda breathed his last at his residence on Monday night. He was 70.

Lauda underwent an emergency lung transplant last year. He was hospitalized again in January with flu for about 10 days.

In 1976, at the Germany Grand Prix in the Nurburgring track, Lauda lost control of his Ferrari car and crashed into a fence at a speed of 200km an hour.

His Ferrari went up in flames and it took 55 seconds to pull him out of the car. At the hospital, a priest gave him the last rites, in light of his serious burns and damaged lung.

Lauda did not only go on living, he went on competing again and winning.

Just 42 days after the crash, Lauda was again behind the wheel and took fourth place in the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, ending the championship season as runner-up to British rival James Hunt.

Even more remarkably, he went on to become world champion two more times, in 1977 and 1984, following his first Formula One title in 1975.

Apart from long-term health problems, including two kidney transplants, the crash also left Lauda with his signature red sports cap.

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