Alex Zanardi in 'serious condition' following road accident in Italy
Alex Zanardi is in a 'very serious' condition after being involved in a road accident in his native Italy.
The ex-Formula 1 driver and two-time CART champion is reported to have been riding his handbike when the accident occured, and was then flown by air ambulance to a nearby hospital.
Le Scotte hospital in Siena confirmed to Reuters news agency that the 53-year-old Italian had been brought in to the facility on Friday evening, and later updated that Zanardi was in intensive care following surgery to treat a 'severe head injury'.
According to the Italian news agency ANSA, Zanardi's accident involved a truck and happened on a state highway just outside the town of Pienza, near Siena.
Zanardi raced in F1 for Jordan, Minardi and Lotus in the early 1990s before switching to the CART championship in America, where he won the 1997 and '98 titles.
A return to Formula 1 with Williams in 1999 was less successful and he went back to CART racing, only to suffer a shocking crash at the Lausitzring in Germany in 2001, that resulted in his legs being amputated.
Remarkably, Zanardi recovered and returned to racing with specially adapted cars, and also took up handbike racing, winning an astonishing four gold medals at the Paralympics and inspiring millions around the world in the process.
Best wishes poured in for Zanardi from around the racing and sporting world on Friday evening, with the hashtag #ForzaAlex trending on social media in his honour.