The death of Austrian Formula 1 racing legend Niki Lauda leaves a vacuum stronger than his tailwind could have generated at top speed. The three-time F-1 champion was 70 and died on Monday, eight months after receiving a lung transplant. He won the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, and for McLaren in 1984. But what many of us will remember him for is his comeback from a near-fatal crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix. He suffered serious burns and inhaled toxic gases as his car burst into flames. Everyone gave up hope. His funeral rites had more or less begun at the hospital, but he “made an almost miraculous recovery and returned to racing", according to a BBC report. Just about 40 days later, he was back on the race track, still bandaged. A report in The Guardian says he wanted to prove to his employer, who had hired someone else as a replacement, he could still fight for the title. Though he lost to his rival James Hunt, he did return the following year to claim his second title. Hunt’s and Lauda’s rivalry was also depicted in the 2013 move Rush. Lauda, however, was also an entrepreneur and even set up two airlines. He continued to pilot planes well into his late sixties, according to another BBC report.

Ask any athlete and she’ll tell you that picking oneself up after a disaster is no mean feat. And just for this, Lauda will remain an inspiration. In a statement, his family said, “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." We can’t agree more.