Friday 18 October 2019

'He was such a happy person' - Eddie Jordan pays tribute to 'total warrior' Niki Lauda

F1 Legend Niki Lauda has passed away. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
F1 Legend Niki Lauda has passed away. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Newsdesk Newsdesk

Former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan has paid homage to the late Niki Lauda who has passed away aged 70.

The three-time Formula One world champion "passed away peacefully", his family said on Monday in a statement reported by the Austria Press Agency.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff led the tributes to the team's chairman saying his death "leaves a void in Formula One".

Lauda's comeback from a near-fatal crash made him a global symbol of resilience and determination.

Lauda was so badly injured in that accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix that a priest gave him the last rites as he lay in a coma.

His Ferrari had slammed into a barrier and then burst into flames as it spun back onto the track, where an oncoming car hit it again. By the time he was pulled from the wreckage, his face, scalp and right ear were severely burnt and his lungs scorched.

Just six weeks later, his burns bandaged and raw, he was racing again, vying to retain his Formula One world title. It remains one of the sport's most memorable acts of courage and defiance.

Lauda, who would later become a racing team executive and airline entrepreneur, was remembered today by Jordan for his love of life.

"It's a very sombre day. Very sad news about Niki," the Irishman told Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One.

"He was a total warrior but first of all he was a prankster in every part of his life. He was such a happy person.

"He's remembered for his duel with James Hunt and people thought they were enemies, they were actually great friends and they admired each other's different styles and different characters all the way through from Niki being the joker but hugely talented, to James being regarded as a bit of a playboy, but in fact the roles were probably reversed in reality because Niki was just completely crazy.

"He will be remembered for being the warrior. The warrior for coming back from that crash. I don't know how he did that.

"He had that magical style that was infectious. You were attracted to him and that's the way he was all his life.

"For him to live to 70 bearing in mind the kidney transplants, the lung transplant, he's a total warrior. That was indicative of the way he came back from that crash 40 days later."

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