Three-time Formula One Drivers’ World Champion Niki Lauda is sadly back in intensive care having suffered from flu over the festive period.
Lauda was celebrating Christmas in Ibiza with his family when issues of his health returned and he was quickly transferred to Vienna AKH hospital.
The 69-year-old Mercedes non-executive chairman has been absent from F1 since a double lung transplant midway through the 2018 season, of which he has been recovering from.
The Austrian’s recovery was deemed to be going well, with Lauda himself explaining his condition and the idea of getting rid of a walking aid that he had been using.
“At the end of January, I’m throwing away the walker,” Lauda explained only a handful of days ago.
“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.”
Unfortunately, though, Lauda finds himself back in intensive care having caught the flu as his immune system was not fully operational following the surgery for his new lung, meaning he eventually contracted a virus.
Upon taking up his role over the last few years at Mercedes, the team have had much success, and Lauda has struck up a good connection with drivers, including five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
There is no doubting that the Austrian’s presence in the paddock is missed by the F1 community and we hope to see Lauda back in Formula One at some point during the 2019 season.
The season itself begins as usual at the Australian Grand Prix on March 17, with Lauda’s Mercedes searching to complete a sixth straight Drivers'/Constructors' double title swoop.
Ferrari are likely once again to provide the closest competition to the Mercs through Sebastian Vettel and new star Charles Leclerc, who replaces Kimi Raikkonen.