This is not the kind of news we’d hope to wake up to. Formula One legend Niki Lauda (full name Andreas Nikolaus Lauda) has passed away at the age of 70, following a period of ill health. In a statement, his family said: “With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday, May 20, 2019.”

“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain. A role model and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed,” the statement adds.

According to reports, he caught a flu while on holiday in Ibiza and flew back to Vienna for treatment. However, his condition worsened, and doctors decided to operate. Eight months prior, Lauda underwent a lung transplant, and he also had two kidney transplants (from his brother Florian in 1997 and from his wife in 2005).

The Austrian is considered to be one of the best drivers in the history of F1, and was a frequent figure in the paddock throughout the years. He was also Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team’s non-executive chairman and was involved in the signing of Lewis Hamilton. Lauda, a three-time Drivers’ Championship winner, still remains as the only person to have won a world title with Ferrari and McLaren.

The three world titles were won in 1975, 1977 and 1984. He was perhaps most famous for his incredible return to the sport after suffering devastating burns in a crash in 1975. Lauda suffered severe burns and was put into a coma, and lost most of his right ear, hair on the right side of his face, as well as his eyebrows and eyelids. He returned to the field just two races later and finished fourth in the Italian Grand Prix.