Niki Lauda was admitted to hospital and re-admitted to intensive care earlier this week following a period of recovery from a life-saving lung transplant.
Holidaying in Ibiza, 69-year-old Lauda needed to return to Vienna after catching a serious bout of influenza A, possibly from a member of his family.
This was potentially attributable to Lauda’s much weakened immune system following the operation.
Newspaper Osterreich wrote: “He had to go back to Vienna because there were no specialists in Ibiza familiar with lung transplants.
"The situation was serious in the first days of the new year.”
However, Lauda is already scheduled to be released from hospital next week.
“There was an influenza case in his family, and he is treated in an intensive care unit with us,” confirmed a spokesperson from AKH hospital in Vienna, as per Wheels24.
Osterreich went on to say that Lauda should now be released from hospital “in three to four days”, which has now been confirmed by AKH, who have gone on to state: “His release is planned in the course of next week."
The setback will have come as a shock to Lauda’s family and F1 fans, as only last week the Mercedes chairman confirmed that he was recovering well from the mid-year lung transplant.
Although he missed the last of the 2018 season in recovery – first at a hospital and then rehabilitation clinic – Lauda had reported that he was returning home.
“At the end of January, I’m throwing away the walker,” he said.
“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.
“I use the tennis court in front of my house as I need the flat surface to learn how to walk properly again.
“According to the doctors, I will recover completely.”
Lauda’s attitude looks good and despite the scare, the F1 legend should be back on track to a full and complete recovery soon.