Reigning Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has paid tribute to Niki Lauda, describing the Austrian as “a bright light in my life”.

Three-time world champion Lauda, who is the only driver in history to have won titles with both Ferrari (1975 and 1977) and McLaren (1984), passed away on Monday evening at the age of 70 following a period of ill health. 

Lauda rose to legendary status in F1 after surviving life-threatening burns and injuries sustained in a horrific crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix. He remarkably returned to racing just six weeks later, finishing fourth at the Italian Grand Prix, as he resumed his title fight against long-time rival James Hunt.

Following his retirement at the end of 1985, Lauda retained a presence in the F1 paddock and most recently helped oversee Mercedes’ current period of dominance in his role as non-executive chairman.

He was an instrumental figure behind Hamilton’s move to Mercedes ahead of the 2013 season, with the Briton going on to claim four of the next six drivers’ world titles.

“I will miss our conversations, our laughs, the big hugs after winning races together,” Hamilton wrote in a post on Instagram.

“It’s truly been an honour working alongside you over these past 7 years. I wouldn’t have even been in this team if it wasn’t for you.

“God rest your soul. Thank you for being a bright light in my life. I’ll always be here for your family should they ever need me.

“Love you man. Your friend always, Lewis.”

Lauda had been absent from the F1 paddock in recent months as he recovered from a double lung transplant having undergone surgery last August, before battling a serious bout of flu earlier this year.

Hamilton’s message was one of many tributes across the motorsport world that were made to Lauda on Tuesday.

 

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