Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda has taken a step back in his recovery from the lung transplant operation he underwent last year. Now, he has been re-admitted to intensive care in hospital after contracting the flu over the festive period.
The Austrian has had multiple lung transplants over the years, with the latest coming in the middle of the 2018 Formula 1 season which meant he was unable to fulfil his duties as Mercedes executive chairman in the championship run-in.
The transplant, at the time, was deemed a complete success as Lauda began his rehabilitation, and although he requires a walking aid due to a lack of strength, he recently spoke of a plan to throw it away when he regained the muscle tone allowing him to walk freely.
However, the Krone reports that a setback was suffered as Lauda caught the flu over Christmas, and as his immune system was not fully operational following the surgery for his new lung, he eventually contracted a virus which meant he had to return to intensive care.
Lauda was actually celebrating Christmas with his family in Ibiza when the new issues arose, and he was quickly returned to the Vienna AKH hospital where he remains in care.
The Mercedes non-executive chairman did not return to the paddock last year following his operation in August. He was said to be in an “extremely critical” state prior to the operation and spent several weeks in intensive care after it. He was treated by professor doctor Walter Klepetko, chief of the clinical department for thoracic surgery, and his team.
Mercedes shared a message from Lauda on social media in late November last year, thanking the team and his friends. “As you all know I had a rough time from a health point of view,” he said. “The support I got from all you people on my way was unbelievable.” His recovery was expected to be a lengthy process.
Lauda won the world championship in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari, and in 1984 with McLaren. He suffered injuries to his lungs when he crashed at the Nurburgring in 1976 and inhaled smoke and fumes from his burning car.