Three-time F1 world champion and Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda underwent a lung transplant in Vienna on Thursday.
It was reported earlier that Lauda had recently contracted a nasty summer flu while on holiday at his home in Ibiza, with a severe cough forcing him to fly to Vienna and seek treatment.
It was believed the 69-year-old was on the mend but reports emerged Thursday evening that the F1 legend's condition had led to a "serious lung illness".
"Due to a severe affection of the lungs, Niki Lauda had to undergo a lung transplantation at the AKH Vienna today", said a brief statement from the Vienna General Hospital.
"The transplantation was done successfully by Walter Klepetko, head of thoracic surgery, and Konrad Hotzenecker.
"We kindly ask for your understanding that the family won't give any official statements and we ask to protect the privacy of the Lauda family."
As one will recall, Lauda's near terminal fiery crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix had left the driver fighting for his life for several days, the inhalation of toxic gases and fumes after the crash severely damaging his lungs.
Lauda has also twice undergone kidney transplants, in 1997 and 2005.