F1 legend Niki Lauda has emergency lung transplant at 69

Three-time Formula One World Champion Niki Lauda is recovering from an emergency lung transplant Thursday at age 69.

The Vienna General Hospital said the procedure was needed due to a "serious lung illness" that The Österreich reported came after an infection the Austrian picked up while on vacation in Ibiza, Spain.

Lauda was severely burned in an accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix and had fluid vacuumed from his lungs so he could return to racing in just six weeks, an event chronicled in the Ron Howard-directed film “Rush,” which stared Daniel Brühl as Lauda.

Lauda has also had two kidney transplants, which the newspaper said restricts what medicines he can take during his treatment. His current condition is said to be improving, but is still precarious.

The 1975 driver’s champion went on to win his second title in 1977 and a third in 1984, while running his own airline, Lauda Air. He currently owns 10 percent of the Mercedes-AMG F1 team and acts as its non-executive chairman.

The Associated Press contributed to this report