Three-time world champion and Mercedes F1 team non-executive chairman, Niki Lauda, has undergone a lung transplant.
The outspoken Austrian was conspicuous by his absence at the last couple of Grands Prix, and only tonight was it revealed that the 69-year-old had undergone surgery.
"Because of a severe lung condition Niki Lauda had to undergo a lung transplant in Vienna General Hospital today," said the hospital in a brief statement posted on its website. "The transplant was carried out successfully."
In 1997 and again in 2005, Lauda underwent kidney transplants. The lung transplant, which was performed by Walter Klepetko, Head of the Clinical Department of Thoracic Surgery, and Konrad Hotzenecker, came after the Austrian was taken ill during a holiday in Ibiza.
The racing legend, who won two of his titles with Ferrari and a third with McLaren after coming out of retirement, almost perished at the Nurburgring in 1976 in a crash that was in many ways a turning point for the sport.
So bad were his injuries that the Austrian was given the last rites, a move that enraged the driver and actually inspired him to fight back.
Against all odds, just six seeks after being dragged from the inferno that was his Ferrari, the Austrian was back in action at Monza - his burns swathed in bandages - as he resumed his iconic title fight with James Hunt.
Indeed, it was only at the season finale at Mount Fuji, where he retired from the race after two laps claiming the monsoon-like conditions were unsafe, as a result Hunt won the title by one point.
Needless to say, Pitpass and its readers wishes the racing legend a full and speedy recovery.