Niki Lauda sends video message to Mercedes after missing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda has sent a video message ahead of the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi this weekend, thanking the sport's community for its support and messages of good will as he recovers from a lung transplant.

The three-time F1 world champion and non-executive chairman of Mercedes was hospitalised earlier this year before undergoing a lung transplant.

He was subsequently discharged at the end of October to embark upon a process of recovery and hopes to be back “soon.”

Saturday morning saw Lauda’s first message posted to Mercedes’ F1 social media accounts since surgery.

In this, he applauded the F1 community and the Mercedes team following their fifth straight championship win this year.

Lauda said: “A message to my team and friends.

"As you all know, I had a rough time from my health point of view, and the support I got from all you people on my way was unbelievable.

"I was out of bed quicker because I felt to be home in a big strong family and friends. Therefore the achievement of this year, outstanding, five championships in a row, Lewis again, [Valtteri] Bottas right there, we could not have done a better job.

"And now the important message is I’ll be there soon. And off we go, off we go, the pressure comes for the sixth time. Thank you very much.”

Working closely alongside team leader Toto Wolff, Lauda has been integral to Mercedes’ F1 project since September 2012, and was key to signing Lewis Hamilton from McLaren at the outset of 2013’s season.

Mercedes paid tribute to Lauda in its celebrations following the Brazilian Grand Prix, with all team members donning the Austrian’s famous red cap.

Earlier in the week, Wolff said that the Mercedes team will deliver “a great show for the fans” this weekend at the season finale.

Wolff went on to say: “The celebrations in Brixworth and Brackley were a very humbling experience.

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"Claiming the fifth consecutive double championship - an experience very few people in the sport have ever had – felt amazing. We cherished that moment.

"At the same time, everyone is keen to continue to raise the bar together and be even stronger in 2019. For now, we have one race to go in 2018 and we want to put on a great show for the fans who supported us this season, be it at the track, in front of their TV or on social media.

"The pressure is off so this is one race where we can really go for broke.”

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