Three-time Formula 1 World Champion Niki Lauda has undergone a successful lung transplant in Vienna.

The Austrian suffered life-threatening burns in an horrific accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring Nordschleife but made an incredible return to racing barely a month after his accident to unsuccessfully challenge James Hunt for the Drivers’ Championship title. That season was the subject of the film Rush.

Having won his first World Championship title in 1975, he repeated the feat in 1977 for Ferrari and again with McLaren in 1984. He later became an airline entrepreneur and served stints as an advisor to the Ferrari and Jaguar F1 teams. Today he is part of the Mercedes F1 team’s management and is one of its shareholders.

Lauda was reportedly taken ill with flu-like symptoms, but his condition apparently deteriorated.

“Because of a severe lung condition Niki Lauda had to undergo a lung transplant in Vienna General Hospital today,” the hospital said in a statement posted on its website. “The transplant was carried out successfully.”

The hospital confirmed that the Lauda family would not be making any immediate public statements and requested privacy.

Image via XPB Images

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.