Monday, 06 august 2018, 06:19 , by Matthew Scott
Doctors are confident that Niki Lauda will make a full recovery after the Formula 1 legend underwent a lung transplant. The Austrian's surgeon Walter Klepetko hailed Lauda's fighting spirit after he was able to breathe freely just a day after his procedure.
Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda will remain hospitalised until he makes a full recovery and is not expected to return to the F1 paddock for at least two months.
However, he is expected to return to full health, Klepetko has confirmed while predicting that Lauda will remain the enigmatic personality much-loved across the motorsport world.
"He will recover to be the man we know again. He will be able to fly, work and exercise again," Klepetko told DPA.
"The mental attitude of the patient is important, he must really be a fighter.
"It will not be so easy to find a bigger fighter than Niki Lauda."
Lauda was famously read his last rites after a fiery crash at the Nurburgring in 1976 that left him with serious burns.
He returned in just six weeks to race after that incident, winning his second world title the following year, and is recovery has been similarly impressive this time, according to Vienna General Hospital.
A statement read: "Already 24 hours after the operation, Niki Lauda was fully conscious that he could be extubated and breathe independently.
"Since then there has been a continuous improvement, all organs are working well."
Klepetko has previously suggested that Lauda may have only lived for a week had he not undergone surgery.
The 69-year-old fell ill while on holiday in Spain and had to be rushed to Vienna by private jet.