Motor racing: Niki Lauda leaves hospital after lung transplant

Lauda (above) cut short a holiday in Ibiza at the end of July after developing a lung infection.
Lauda (above) cut short a holiday in Ibiza at the end of July after developing a lung infection.PHOTO: REUTERS

VIENNA (AFP) - Three-time Formula One champion Niki Lauda left Vienna's general hospital on Wednesday (Oct 24) around two and a half months after an emergency lung transplant, the hospital said in a statement.

It added that he left "in a good overall state of health".

"Niki Lauda will have to undergo an intensive course of rehabilitation over several weeks," the statement said, adding that he would continue to receive treatment from the medical team that had cared for him thus far.

Now 69, Lauda was crowned world champion for the first time in 1975 and cheated death the following year in a horrific crash at the German Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring which left him with severe burns.

He cut short a holiday in Ibiza at the end of July and returned to Vienna for treatment after developing a lung infection.

He was made a priority for a transplant after having to be put on an artificial lung.

Lauda is a non-executive chairman of Mercedes' Formula One operation and before his illness was a regular presence in the Grand Prix paddocks around the world.

Lauda is also very active in aviation - in January he bought back his old airline Niki, renaming it LaudaMotion but going on to sell a majority stake to Irish low-cost operator Ryanair two months later.

In the 1976 accident Lauda stayed in his burning vehicle for almost a minute before being pulled out.

Since then Lauda has suffered from the after-effects of the toxic gases he inhaled in the accident and also required kidney transplants in 1997 and 2005.