Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton led the tributes for former MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden who died in hospital on Monday, five days after being involved in a collision while cycling.
America’s Hayden remained in the intensive care unit of Cesena’s Maurizio Bufalini Hopsital since the incident on the Rimini coastline on Wednesday, which left the 35-year-old with severe cerebral damage and multiple traumatic injuries.
“Dear Nicky, you will be missed. May God hold you high, you are forever in our hearts. My thoughts and prayers to you and your loved ones,” said Hamilton of the driver nicknamed the Kentucky Kid.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team posted on Twitter: “Once a champion, always a champion.”
Hayden, who rode for both Honda and Ducati, claimed the MotoGP title in 2006 after finishing narrowly ahead of Italian great Valentino Rossi. In 218 races, he posted three victories and 28 podium finishes.
After switching to the World Superbike championship last year, he finished fifth, while he was 13th this season while riding for the Red Bull Honda team.