Alex Zanardi undergoes brain surgery after F1 hero rushed to hospital by air ambulance

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Alex Zanardi undergoes brain surgery after F1 hero rushed to hospital by air ambulance

Alex Zanardi was in a “very serious” condition at Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital in Siena on Friday evening after undergoing brain surgery following a handbike crash. The former F1 star is reported to have collided with a truck during a national race for Paralympic athletes and had to be transferred to hospital by air ambulance.

A medical bulletin released by the hospital said: “The management of health informs that the neurosurgery and maxillofacial surgery began shortly after 19.00 and finished at 21.30.

“The patient was transferred to intensive care, with a reserved prognosis. His condition is very serious.”

As reported by the Associated Press, Italian national team coach Mario Valentini told La Repubblica Florence: “It happened on a slightly downhill straightaway just before a slight curve in the road.

“Alex veered slightly into the oncoming lane just when a truck came. [The truck] tried to swerve but couldn’t avoid the crash.”

READ MORE: Alex Zanardi golds among magic Paralympic moments

La Repubblica report Zanardi was concious when medical personnel arrived at the scene of the accident and was able to breathe without assistance.

Valentini said: “Twenty minutes passed from the time of the accident to when the medical personnel arrived. It took some time to load him [into the ambulance]. His wife helped. After the accident he was talking.

“It was a sunny day and everyone was happy. We were 20 kilometers [12 miles] from [the finish line] in Montalcino. The truck didn’t make a mistake. Alex made the mistake.”

Zanardi, who enjoyed two spells in F1, lost both of his legs in a horrendous crash during a 2001 CART race in Germany.

The 53-year-old has since gone on to win four gold medals and two silvers while representing Italy in handbike events at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics in London and Rio respectively.

After news of Zanardi’s accident broke, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte tweeted: “You’ve never given up and with your extraordinary strength within you’ve overcome a thousand troubles. Forza Alex Zanardi. Don’t give up. All of Italy is with you.”

1978 F1 champion Mario Andretti tweeted: “I am so anxious and frightened about Alex Zanardi that I’m holding my breath.

“I am his fan. I am his friend. Please do what I’m doing and pray pray (for) this wonderful man.”

Former F1 star Martin Brundle wrote: “Alex has already had his share of bad luck, which he transcended with a mighty determination and spirit to win again.

“I’m with you Mario [Andretti], let’s hope he’s fine and this is nowhere near as serious as it sounds from reports.”

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