Niki Lauda, Formula 1's Ultimate Survivor, Dead At 70
"Red cap, clear and direct"
Formula One legend Niki Lauda was not a quitter.
After a horrific car crash that disfigured him for life he went on to win races, and he weathered the crash of a passenger jet during his time as an airline entrepreneur.
On Monday, the Austrian triple world champion died at the age of 70 less than a year after receiving an emergency lung transplant.
The surgery was performed almost exactly 42 years after Lauda crashed into a fence at the German Nuerburgring track at a speed of 200km/h kilometres an hour during a race.
"The impact was so hard that the helmet was ripped off my head," he said of the crash.
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.
"But I did not want to die. I wanted to go on living," Lauda said four decades after the crash.
Lauda did not only go on living, he went on fighting.
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.
"Coming back quickly was part of my strategy of not sitting at home and thinking about why this had happened to me," he said.
Apart from lingering health problems, the crash also left Lauda with his signature red sports cap.
His physiotherapist initially gave it to him to keep his head bandages in place, but he kept wearing it so that people would look him in the eye rather than at his scarred scalp.
Following his first Formula One world title in 1975, Lauda won two more times in 1977 and 1984.
By the time the Austrian ended his racing career in 1985, he had competed in 171 Formula One races, winning 25 of them and standing on the podium 54 times.
Before retiring from the track, the racer launched Lauda Air in 1979.
In May 1991, one of his aircraft crashed after takeoff from Bangkok. All 223 passengers and crew members died.
"I was deeply shocked," Lauda said of the accident, admitting that he felt guilty until an investigation showed a technical problem caused the tragedy.
Lauda, known as a tough businessman, sold the airline in the 1990s.
In 2003, he founded another airline, Niki, which he sold to Air Berlin in 2011. He bought it back in January 2018 to run it under the Laudamotion brand, only to sell it quickly to Irish budget carrier Ryanair.
The son of an industrialist family proved his shrewdness when he started his racing career.
He lied to his grandmother to get money for his first racing car, saying he needed it to buy real estate, according to a book he co-authored on his business outlook.
He also faked his high school diploma in order to get parental approval to begin car racing.
In later years, Lauda became an adviser for the Ferrari race team, before becoming non-executive chairman of the Mercedes F1 team in 2012.
Since then, Mercedes have dominated the hybrid era with three drivers' world titles with Lewis Hamilton and one from the now retired Nico Rosberg alongside four constructors' championships.
Lauda was also known to motorsport fans as a television commentator over 20 years.
"Red cap, clear and direct words," Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff said in summarising the man.