Geri Horner pay tribute to 'brave and kind' late Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda

Geri Horner has paid tribute to the late Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda, who was the three-time Drivers’ Champion and the only driver in F1 history to have been champion for both Ferrari and McLaren.

Taking to Instagram, the Spice Girls star – who is married to Formula 1 team principal for Red Bull Racing Christian Horner – shared her memories of the ‘brave and kind man’ alongside a picture of the ex-driver.

‘R.I.P. Goodbye Niki Lauda – Legend, brave & kind man,’ she captioned the snap of the pair on a boat together.

The racing car legend died in Vienna on Monday 20 May, nine months after a lung transplant.

In a statement, his family said: ‘With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday.

‘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.’

In spite of his successes, it was the fascination with Niki’s racing rivalry with British driver James Hunt that inspired 2013 Hollywood film, Rush, starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl.

The rivalry dominated both drivers’ racing careers for around six years, between 1973 and 1979.

Ultimately, Lauda triumphed succeeding in three championships to Hunt’s one 1976 win – the same year as Lauda’s car accident, when his Ferrari burst into flames at the side of the track during the German Grand Prix.

The ’76 season was a superb tussle between Lauda and Hunt for the world title and they headed to Germany for the ninth race of the season with Lauda ahead in the Drivers’ Championship.

Hunt had won in Spain and France, but the Austrian had topped the podium in Brazil, South Africa, Belgium, Monaco and Great Britain as he looked to defend his title.

Ahead of the race at the Nurburgring, Lauda had raised concerns over the safety of the track, specifically the lack of fire safety equipment and marshals on the course, and he even went as far as encouraging other drivers to boycott the race, such were his misgivings over the situation.

Tragically, he was right, and on just the second lap he crashed into an embankment and his Ferrari caught fire.

Despite serious levels of smoke inhalation and third-degree burns to his face, he returned just six weeks later for the Italian Grand Prix.

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