THREE-TIME Formula One world champion Niki Lauda - who has died at the age of 70 - claimed one of his most iconic victories during the darkest of days for the Vale of Clwyd.

Lauda suffered serious burns in a crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix.

The Austrian star claimed his first Grand Prix win after this accident at the South African Grand Prix on March 5, 1977, the race which claimed the life of Ruthin's Tom Pryce.

Pryce, the only Welshman to win a Grand Prix, was killed after he collided at high speed with a safety marshal.

The 27-year-old showed his undoubted talent during the practice session in South Africa, which was conducted in wet conditions, and Pryce was faster than everyone on the track.

This included Lauda and defending world champion James Hunt.

Lauda would go on to win the South African Grand Prix, however his joy would turn to sadness when he was informed of Tom Pryce's death when he was on the podium.

Lauda "passed away peacefully", his family said on Monday in a statement reported by the Austria Press Agency.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff led the tributes to the team's chairman saying his death "leaves a void in Formula One".

He said: "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.

"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."

FIA president Jean Todt sent his condolences in a Twitter post, which read: "Niki Lauda was a hero of motor sport, who inspired me in my youth.

"He is a milestone in the history of @F1. All my thoughts go out to his family, friends and @MercedesAMGF1 team. #NikiLauda #F1."