Niki Lauda has returned to hospital suffering with flu over the Christmas period having undergone a double lung transplant last summer.

The three-time Formula 1 world champion and Non-Executive Chairman of Mercedes was absent from the second half of the 2018 F1 season to recover from a double lung transplant operation he underwent last August.

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According to reports from Austria media outlets, Lauda returned to hospital in Vienna following a bout of flu which he picked up while on holiday in Ibiza over Christmas. Osterreich reported he was in intensive care but is expected to be released from hospital within one week.

In November, the 69-year-old was seen in a video message produced by Mercedes thanking fans and the team for their support during his recovery, while the Mercedes crew celebrated its historic double F1 world drivers’ and constructors’ title with red caps in tribute to Lauda’s iconic look.

Lauda’s current condition is not thought to be serious, in hospital as a precaution to receive specialist treatment following his double lung transplant, and will continue to recover in hospital until he is permitted to return home.