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Inspirational athlete and entrepreneur Lauda leaves lasting legacy

Niki Lauda was hailed for his “unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur” after the Formula One legend died at the age of 70.

Lauda’s family announced on Tuesday that the three-time F1 world champion had passed away nine months after undergoing a lung transplant.

Possessing endless amounts of courage is a necessity in motorsport and they did not come any braver than Lauda.

The Austrian great produced one of the most astonishing comebacks in sporting history after he was seriously injured in a fiery crash at the Nurburgring in 1976.

Lauda was rescued from his Ferrari, which was engulfed in flames  after ploughing into a wall at high speed.

Left with severe burns and scorched lungs after inhaling toxic fumes, Lauda’s life hung in the balance as a priest delivered the last rites.

“But I did not want to die. I wanted to go on living.” Lauda recalled

Just six weeks after that horrific smash, he was back in the cockpit at Monza and finished a remarkable fourth, with his unhealed wounds covered by a balaclava that was soaked in blood.

Lauda regained his title the following year and again in 1984, before going on to become a successful aviation entrepreneur – also taking a hands-on approach as a licensed commercial pilot.

He took up management roles in F1 – with Ferrari, Jaguar and most recently with Mercedes – and continued to have a big influence in the sport over four decades after suffering life-changing injuries.

Known for his forthright opinions and a relentless desire to succeed with huge passion and determination, Lauda made a big impact in F1 and beyond long after his driving career came to an end.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “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 One. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense.

“Our Mercedes team has also lost a guiding light. As a team-mate 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.” 

Tributes continue to pour in for Lauda, who has left a lasting legacy in his sport.

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Rosberg ´strongly inspired´ by Lauda

Nico Rosberg expressed his gratitude for the influence Niki Lauda had on his career after the three-time Formula One champion died at the age of 70.

Lauda’s family on Tuesday announced that the Austrian great had passed away nine months after he underwent a lung transplant.

Rosberg quit after winning his maiden F1 title in 2016, having benefited from Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda’s expertise and advice.

The German driver paid tribute to the inspirational Lauda – who made an astonishing comeback in 1976 only six weeks after suffering serious injuries in a crash at Nurburgring – on social media.

“Dear Niki. Thank you for everything that you did for me.” he posted on Twitter and Instagram.

“I learned so much from you. Your passion, your fighting spirit, to never give up, your belief that you always meet twice in life, and even your patience with us youngsters.

“Myself and all of your 100 million fans around the world, whom you also so strongly inspired to never give up in the hardest of times, are thinking of you and your family and wish that you rest in peace.”

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Wolff: Mercedes has lost a guiding light in legendary Lauda

Toto Wolff says Mercedes has lost a “guiding light” and “one of the greatest legends” in Formula One after Niki Lauda died at the age of 70.

Three-time F1 champion Lauda’s family announced on Tuesday that he had passed away, having undergone a lung transplant last August.

Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda staged one of the most astonishing comebacks in sporting history when he resumed his racing career just six weeks after being seriously injured in a crash in Germany in 1976, going on to win the second of his world championships the following season.

The Austrian continued to have a big influence in the sport in management roles after ending his driving career in 1985 and Mercedes team principal Wolff paid a glowing tribute to his former colleague.

“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 in a statement released by Mercedes.

“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 One. 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 One. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense.

“Our Mercedes team has also lost a guiding light. As a team-mate 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.”

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Three-time F1 champion Niki Lauda dies aged 70

Former Formula One driver and three-time world champion Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70.

F1 legend Lauda – who won world titles in 1975, 1977 and 1984 – died “peacefully” on Monday, his family confirmed.

Considered to be one of the greatest F1 drivers in history, Lauda won two championships with Ferrari and one during his time at McLaren.

“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” his family said in a statement.

“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and 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.”

Lauda survived a near-fatal crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, where his Ferrari burst into flames.

The Austrian was left with serve burns to his face, body and lungs, however, he returned to win the title the following year.

Lauda also worked in senior management roles within F1, including as non-executive chairman of Mercedes since 2012 and he played a key role in signing Lewis Hamilton.

“All at McLaren are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, colleague and 1984 Formula 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, has passed away. Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history,” McLaren said via Twitter.

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Niki Lauda: Hill mourns ´remarkable´ three-time F1 champion

Niki Lauda was a remarkable individual who had a positive impact on all who knew him, says Damon Hill.

Three-time Formula One world champion Lauda died “peacefully” on Monday at the age of 70, his family confirmed.

Lauda survived a near-fatal crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix at Nurburgring but, despite suffering severe burns and being administered the last rites, he returned to the sport six weeks later and won the title the following year.

He also worked in various management roles within the F1, including as non-executive chairman of Mercedes since 2012, and Hill paid tribute to a sporting great.

“Everyone who was in Formula One knew Niki’s personality as one of the most potent individuals in the sport,” 1996 world champion Hill told Sky Sports.

“He was highly intellectual, stoic, someone who didn’t have any time for any of the BS in the business at all. He was eminently quotable all the time.

“It’s very sad to hear that we’ve lost Niki but so many people have been affected positively by having known him.

“There are so many stories about Niki Lauda. He was involved in the drivers’ strike in South Africa.

“He was one of the few men who could sit down with Bernie Ecclestone and Enzo Ferrari and they knew that he meant business.

“He was a remarkable individual in every way.”

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Hill said Lauda’s career was marked by the respect other drivers in the paddock had for him.

“I certainly was one person who looked at Niki and thought I’ll never would be half the man he was.

“His career was stylised and characterised by his intelligent approach. When he came up against Alain Prost he knew he couldn’t beat him on speed, so he beat him on tactics.

“He wasn’t Machiavellian at all. He was thoughtful, he was intelligent, he was pragmatic and he just got the job done.”

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Hungarian Podium positions

The second round of the WTCR championship held on Hungaroring.

Three Hungarian drivers represented: Norbert Michelisz, Attila Tassi and Tamás Tenke. After reaching some points on Saturday Norbi started 10th on the second race but started from the front on the third one. After start he fallen back to position third but managed to finish on second after teammate Gabriele Tarquini.

Within TCR championship Dániel Nagy reached third place.

 The next races will be on Slovakia Ring between 11-12th May.

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FP3: Leclerc fastest again, Ferrari over one second ahead

Charles Leclerc ended the final practice session on top of the timesheets as Ferrari concluded running 1.2 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

The nearest Mercedes was over 1.4 seconds down on the Maranello squad, who secured the top two positions as focus shifts to qualifying.

Sebastian Vettel was two-tenths down on Leclerc, and managed to pick up a strong slipstream down the start-finish straight on his hot lap.

Max Verstappen was the next best car, as he ended up ahead of the two Mercedes’. Valtteri Bottas was fourth, leading teammate Lewis Hamilton who won the race at Baku 12 months ago.

Toro Rosso heads the midfield

Continuing its strong pace from Friday, the two Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon were sixth and eighth, with Kevin Magnussen lodged in between.

However, the gap from Toro Rosso to Mercedes was very marginal, leading to suggestions that Mercedes are holding back ahead of qualifying later this afternoon.

Sergio Perez, who has more podiums in Baku than any other driver, ended the session in ninth place, while Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top ten in the Alfa Romeo.

No driver became victims of the close walls, however there were a number of occasions in which a driver took to the escape road during the 60 minutes of action.

Renault and Haas struggle

The regular midfield frontrunners struggled during the session, as both Renaults and Haas’s ended up outside the top ten.

Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean were towards the bottom end of the field, ahead of only the two Williams’ and Pierre Gasly.

Red Bull focused on Gasly’s long run programme, as the Frenchman will start Sunday’s race from the pit lane as a punishment for missing the weigh bridge during FP2 on Friday.

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Great Run VII.

Race cars, motorbikes and trucks in the heart of Budapest?

Yes, this is the Great Run, which apart from being a fantastic and spectacular event for the spectators, has the explicit aim of bringing the motorsport closer to the people. This event has become a tradition in the Hungarian capital, allowing fans as close to the race cars, motorbikes, trucks and drivers as could never come true in a closed circuit.

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Chinese Grand Prix driver ratings


Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton struggled throughout the weekend, but when it mattered in qualifying, he produced a strong lap to secure a front row start. With starts being arguably his weakest area, he was on top of it this weekend, and after taking the lead into the first turn, controlled proceeding unchallenged thereon in.

Rating: 9.0

Valtteri Bottas

It was a more on form Bottas this weekend after a poor showing in Bahrain. Taking his seventh pole position, Bottas’ chance of a win slipped away mere metres into the Grand Prix. However, he kept Hamilton in his sights throughout to secure another 1-2 finish for Mercedes.

Rating: 8.0

Sebastian Vettel

After a disastrous outing in Bahrain, Vettel was gunning for the win in Shanghai. However, as Mercedes was simply in a class of its own, a podium finish was probably the best he could have achieved.

Rating: 7.5

Max Verstappen

Verstappen did well to split the Ferraris in the race after heavily outperforming teammate Pierre Gasly in qualifying. He had a go on Sebastian Vettel, but just didn’t have the pace in the car to keep up with the German.

Rating: 8.0

Charles Leclerc

Leclerc ended up getting hit hard by Ferraris strategy call. It seemed he lacked a little pace compared to Vettel throughout the weekend, but still should have finished in at least fourth place.

Rating: 7.0

Pierre Gasly

Heading into the season, Red Bull probably expected Gasly to pick up mostly sixth place positions. That he managed in China but was still a long, long way off Verstappen. Nevertheless, it was an improvement from Australia and Bahrain.

Rating: 6.0

Daniel Ricciardo

It was the race that Ricciardo was hoping for. After two consecutive DNF’s for Renault, picking up the ‘best of the rest spot’ and his first points of the year was exactly what he needed as he continues to acclimatise himself in his new team.

Rating: 8.0

Sergio Perez

Typical Sergio Perez. After missing out on a spot in Q3, the Mexican perfected a one-stop strategy, doing what he does best. Obtaining more points for Racing Point, it was a smooth and successful race for the 29-year-old.

Rating: 9.0

Kimi Raikkonen

Like Bahrain, Raikkonen had a pretty quiet weekend. After ending his streak of Q3 appearances, he too drove a one-stop strategy and picked up more points for Alfa Romeo.

Rating: 8.0

Alexander Albon

Albon was the popular choice for Driver of the Day after the race, as he drove to a solid P10 finish after starting from the pit lane. It was a great race drive, but his wreck in FP3 which put him out of qualifying can’t go unmentioned. It remains to be seen if his Honda power unit can be used again going forward.

Rating: 7.5

Romain Grosjean

Grosjean was unlucky to not be able to set a time in the final stage of qualifying, as Haas came from having no pace in Friday practice to getting both cars in Q3 when it mattered. Even though they did not show the pace that they had at the first race of the season in Australia, it was strategy which was the limiting factor that meant Grosjean couldn’t score any points.

Rating: 7.0

Lance Stroll

Stroll has continued his seven-race streak of being eliminated in Q1 (although four of these were for Williams), and he did not show the same pace that his teammate Perez had in his Racing Point during the race. A late pitstop prevented him from a possible P11 finish, but this would still not have earned the Canadian any points.

Rating: 6.0

Kevin Magnussen

Magnussen had a similar strategy to his teammate Romain Grosjean, a strategy that ultimately didn’t work. However, the Dane did not have the speed of Grosjean in the race.

Rating: 6.0

Carlos Sainz

Sainz suffered yet another blow in what has been a horrible start to the season for the Spaniard, as he lost a lot of time in his first lap collision with Kvyat. He extracted all he could from the car in qualifying, where he was comfortably faster than his teammate Norris, and then had good race pace in his comeback drive.

Rating: 6.5

Antonio Giovinazzi

Giovinazzi is had another weekend to forget, where he was unlucky to not be able to complete a timed lap in qualifying. However, he also was quite far off the pace of his teammate Kimi Raikkonen during the race. The Italian also managed to be beaten by Sainz, which should never have happened given the gap between the pair after lap one.

Rating: 5.0

George Russell

Yet again we do not feel that it would be fair to give the Williams’ drivers a rating, as they can only be compared against themselves. It was still a relatively good performance from Russell, who made a two-stop strategy work to beat his teammate Kubica for the third race running.

Rating: N/A

Robert Kubica

Kubica had a much better weekend than the previous two rounds of the season, as he was much closer to his teammate George Russell both in qualifying and the race. He is still suffering from issues with his Williams car that aren’t apparrent on Russell’s FW42.

Rating: N/A
Lando Norris

Norris had his first retirement in Formula 1 at the Chinese Grand Prix, which came after a disappointing qualifying meant he was caught up in the first lap incident with Kvyat and his teammate Sainz. He didn’t have much pace in the race up until his retirement, due to heavy damage to the floor, sustained during the incident.

Rating: 5.0
Daniil Kvyat

Kvyat performed well in qualifying to miss out on a Q3 appearance by only 0.022s, the stewards deemed the Russian to be the cause of the first lap incident with the two McLarens. This meant he was awarded a drive-through penalty, which effectively ruined his race. Toro Rosso later retired the car to reduce the engine and gearbox mileage.

Rating: 6.0

Nico Hulkenberg

After losing out by a small margin in qualifying to Ricciardo, Hulkenberg was unfortunate to have to retire his RS19 after only 15 laps due to yet another MGU-K problem for Renault.

Rating: N/A

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Chinese GP: Hamilton storms to race victory


Lewis Hamilton has taken the lead in the world championship for the first time in 2019 as he crossed the line in first place at the Chinese Grand Prix.

The Briton was unchallenged on his way to his 75th career win, as he beat teammate Valtteri Bottas to the chequered flag at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Hamilton got the jump on Bottas off the line, and took the lead into the first corner, making it three from three races in 2019 that the pole sitter hasn’t headed the pack into the opening corner of the Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc also got past his teammate Sebastian Vettel at Turn 1, but couldn’t keep up with the Mercedes’ who started to pull away.

There was a brief virtual safety car period after Daniel Kvyat came together with the two McLarens on the exit of Turn 6. Daniil Kvyat received a drive-through penalty for the incident, whie McLaren failed to score any points.

On the 11th lap, Leclerc let Vettel past to allow the German to go in chase of Bottas in front. However, Vettel failed to pull away quickly and while he towed Leclerc along, Max Verstappen closed in in the Red Bull.

The Dutchman then triggered the pit stops, as he boxed for medium tyres. Vettel responded on the next lap, coming out just in front of the 21-year-old. Verstappen attempted an overtake at the Turn 14 hairpin, but failed to make the move stick, getting pushed out onto the grass by Vettel.

When Leclerc pitted a number of laps later, he emerged far behind Verstappen in fifth place, where he would remain for the rest of the race, even after the second round of pit stops.

Out in front, Mercedes was unchallenged and decided to stack their cars when they made their second pit stops, after Vettel and Verstappen.

Pierre Gasly drove a lonely race but picked up his best result at Red Bull, crossing the line in sixth place. However, he pitted in the last couple of laps and managed to pick up the extra point for the fastest lap.

Daniel Ricciardo also had a quiet race for Renault but managed to pick up his first points of the year, finishing in seventh place. He headed Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen who were eighth and ninth respectively.

After starting from the pitlane, Albon drove a one-stop strategy to pick up the final point on offer, while also winning the Driver of the Day vote.

It was a tough day for Haas, who failed to pick up points despite having both of its cars inside the top ten for the start of the Grand Prix.