New Delhi: Legendary Formula One driver Niki Lauda passed away on Monday (May 20) at the age of 70, his family said in a statement.

"With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday," the statement read, which was released to the Austrian media.

"His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain," added the statement.

Eight months ago, Lauda had undergone a lung transplant. The Austrian had won F1 drivers world championship thrice, in 1975, 1977 and 1984 with McLaren.

"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. #RIPNiki," Team McLaren tweeted on Tuesday.

On Twitter, fans, F1 drivers, sportspersons and others paid rich tributes to Lauda, who had been non-executive chairman at Mercedes F1 team since 2012.

"During his driving career, Lauda suffered horrific injuries on August 1, 1976 when, having already won five races that season, his vehicle burst into flames on the Nuerburgring in Germany. He had severe burns to his face and hands, and inhaled toxic fumes which damaged his lungs.

"Despite being given the last rites in hospital he made an almost miraculous recovery to race again just six weeks later still bandaged and in intense pain," an AFP report said.

The official Twitter handle of Formula One wrote, “Rest in peace Niki Lauda. Forever carried in our hearts, forever immortalised in our history. The motorsport community today mourns the devastating loss of a true legend. The thoughts of everyone at F1 are with his friends and family.”

"A legend has left us. Rest in peace Niki #nikilauda," tweeted 2009 world champion and former McLaren driver Jenson Button.