Just five months after undergoing a lung transplant back in August, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team non-executive chairman and three-time world champion Niki Lauda has been hospitalized due to complications with the flu.
The Formula 1 legend was airlifted to Vienna in his native Austria, where he was admitted to the intensive care unit. This comes after he came down with the flu, and complications arose, according to SkySports.
The 69-year-old former racer missed most of the second half of the 2018 Formula 1 season due to poor health, eventually undergoing a life-saving lung transplant in August. Being a very serious surgery, Lauda only got discharged four months later in December after a lengthy stint in both hospital and a rehabilitation clinic.
He had needed the transplant after doctors found what they described as “severe lung disease.” Following his surgery, doctors made the shocking announcement that he would not have survived for another week without the surgery.
With Lauda recovering throughout the end of the season, the Mercedes team honored him by wearing red caps similar to the one the Austrian always dons when they celebrated their constructors championship and driver Lewis Hamilton’s championship wins at their Northamptonshire factory.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 6, 2019
Lauda has worn the cap ever since he survived a horrific accident at the Nurburgring in Germany during a race in the 1976 Formula 1 season. The Austrian driver was caught inside his burning Ferrari, and ended up with severe burns to his face, hands, and torso, which badly affected his lungs.
Doctors have stated that the lung disease Lauda was suffering from prior to his surgery in 2018 is not related to that accident or any damage that was caused at the time, according to the BBC.
Early in January, he said he would be “throwing away the walker” by the end of the month, according to a report by Planet F1.
“The lungs work perfectly, but I’ve been in bed for five months so the main problem is the muscles. All I have to do now is gain more strength. I feel good and I am not taking as many pills as before. Everyday life is not the same as before, but every day I make progress with my two physios,” Lauda explained.
He also added that he has been using the tennis courts nearby his home in order to practice his walking so that he can get rid of the walker. Doctors have given him a positive prognosis, predicting that he will make a full recovery after the transplant.