Three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda is not attending the 2018 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he continues to recover from a lung transplant.
The 69-year-old had a lung transplant in early August and is currently in rehabilitation after a long stay in hospital.
It had been reported that despite the Mercedes team non-executive chairman’s closest paddock friends claiming Lauda had targeted a comeback for the 2018 season finale, he is in fact not well enough to be in Abu Dhabi.
“He’s doing much better, but he just does not yet have the strength to be here,” Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko, a close friend of Lauda’s, told the German broadcaster RTL.
Lauda won the F1 drivers’ championship in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari and again in 1984 with McLaren. In 1976, he was badly burned when he crashed during the German Grand Prix, but returned to racing just six weeks later.
The Austrian posted a message on Mercedes’ social media accounts on Saturday ahead of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit to thank everyone for their support congratulate the team on the fifth successive double title success.
“As you all know, I had a rough time from my health point of view and the support I got from all you people on my way was unbelievable and I was out of bed quicker because I felt to be home in a big strong family and friends,” said Lauda.
“The [team’s] achievement of this year – outstanding. Five championships in a row, Lewis again, Bottas right there, we could not have done a better job.
“The important message is I will be there soon and off we go, the pressure comes, for the sixth time.”
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