Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says that everyone from the team are hoping for Niki Lauda to make a full recovery over the coming weeks.
The three time former F1 World Champion Niki Lauda has been in hospital since the Friday of the German Grand Prix two weeks ago, having initially been admitted for influenza. The Austrian had been on holiday in Ibiza when he took ill and flew back to Vienna to admit himself into the Allgemeines Krankenhaus in Vienna.
He was quickly moved into intensive care but put back on a normal ward on Wednesday of last week where he continued to recover. However, on Thursday of this week, he quickly regressed and needed urgent surgery. He was given a lung transplant, with the surgery going successfully.
“Due to a severe affection of the lungs, Niki Lauda had to undergo a lung transplantation at the AKH Vienna today,” said a hospital statement. “The transplantation was done successfully by Walter Klepetko, head of thoracic surgery, and Konrad Hotzenecker.”
“We kindly ask for your understanding that the family won’t give any official statements and we ask to protect the privacy of the Lauda family.”
Since then, Mercedes have offered their support to their non-executive chairman, after Lauda was forced to miss the German and Hungarian Grands Prix from his poor health.
“Although we should enjoy the start of our summer holidays this evening, none of us at Mercedes will pretend that we feel happy – our thoughts are rather with Niki, Birgit and the Lauda family” said Wolff in a statement. “The world knows Niki as an F1 legend with incredible power and resilience.”
“For all of us at Mercedes he is our chairman, our mentor and our friend. We have missed him by our side in Hockenheim and Hungary, and can’t wait to have him back with us.”
“The recovery he faces is not a race. But I’m sure he will soon be telling every nurse and doctor that he has had enough of hospital. We wish him a safe and speedy recovery – in that order – and send all our positive energy to him and his family. I miss you my friend.”
Lauda’s condition is believed to have been exacerbated by lung damage he suffered during his severe accident at the Nuburgring in 1976, which resulted in him breathing in toxic fumes as his Ferrari burned. Lauda had to be rescued from the burning car before life-saving treatment in hospital.