Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has led the tributes to Niki Lauda who passed away on Monday and says both F1 and his squad has “lost a guiding light” in the three-time world champion.

Lauda’s passing was confirmed early Tuesday morning, nine months after undergoing a double lung transplant, with the motorsport and wider sporting world remembering the iconic Austrian who was non-executive Chairman at Mercedes.

Wolff, a close friend and colleague to Lauda, has given a tribute to the three-time F1 world champion and feels both Mercedes and the sport has lost an hero.

“First of all, on behalf of the team and all at Mercedes, I wish to send our deepest condolences to Birgit, Niki's children, his family and close friends,” Wolff said.

“Niki will always remain one of the greatest legends of our sport - he combined heroism, humanity and honesty inside and outside the cockpit.

“His passing leaves a void in Formula 1. We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula 1. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense.

“Our Mercedes team has also lost a guiding light. As a teammate over the past six and a half years, Niki was always brutally honest - and utterly loyal. It was a privilege to count him among our team and moving to witness just how much it meant to him to be part of the team’s success. Whenever he walked the floor in Brackley and Brixworth, or delivered one of his famous motivational speeches, he brought an energy that nobody else could replicate.

“Niki, you are quite simple irreplaceable, there will never be another like you.

“It was our honour to call you our Chairman - and my privilege to call you my friend.”

Lauda was an ever-present figure in the F1 paddock until midway through last season when he underwent a double lung transplant. Having battled flu in January, his family confirmed he passed away peacefully on Monday evening.

Lauda climbed to great heights in F1 in the 1970s by winning his first world championship with Ferrari in 1975 before suffering life-threatening burns and injuries in an accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix.

The Austria fought back to race just six weeks later and narrowly missed out on the world title to James Hunt. Lauda then claimed a second world crown in 1977 before taking a three-year break from the sport at the end of 1979 to focus on business interests.

Lauda returned to F1 with McLaren in 1982 and won his third world championship in 1984.

He remained an iconic figure in the paddock for another three decades following his retirement and was seen as a key figure at Mercedes during its recent dominance of F1.

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