Former F1 champion Niki Lauda undergoes lung transplant

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Niki Lauda, three-time Formula 1 world champion and current non-executive chairman of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, has undergone a lung transplant.

The Vienna General Hospital says the operation was performed Thursday because of a “serious lung illness.” It didn’t give more specific details in a brief statement and said the 69-year-old Austrian’s family would make no public comment.

Lauda won the Formula 1 driver’s championship in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari, and in 1984 with McLaren.

He suffered serious burns in a fiery crash at the German Grand Prix in 1976, but returned to racing only six weeks later at the Italian Grand Prix. Lauda has twice undergone kidney transplants, in 1997 and 2005.

Lauda was appointed as Mercedes’ non-executive chairman in 2012, a role he has held ever since, and was involved in the signing of Lewis Hamilton to the F1 team.