Mercedes has lost a “guiding light” who is “irreplaceable” in Niki Lauda, according to motorsport boss Toto Wolff, in the wake of the 70-year-old’s death.
Lauda, Formula 1 World Champion in 1975, 1977 and 1984, died on Monday evening surrounded by his close family.
In recent years Lauda occupied a role as Mercedes’ non-executive Chairman, working closely with team boss Wolff across the marque’s as-yet-unbeaten spell in Formula 1 through the hybrid era.
Lauda, also a shareholder in the team, played a key role not only in Mercedes’ management structure but in prising Lewis Hamilton away from McLaren for the 2013 season.
On Tuesday, Wolff paid tribute to his late 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,” said Wolff.
"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."