Niki Lauda needs more time before his Formula 1 return - Dr Helmut Marko

<b> BRAIN'S TRUST: </b> Ross Brawn (L) chats to Mercedes F1 team's Niki Lauda (C) and Toto Wolff (R). <i> Image: AFP / Saeed Khan </i>
<b> BRAIN'S TRUST: </b> Ross Brawn (L) chats to Mercedes F1 team's Niki Lauda (C) and Toto Wolff (R). <i> Image: AFP / Saeed Khan </i>
Saeed Khan

Niki Lauda needs more time before he is ready to return to Formula 1.

That is the view of his friend and Austrian countryman Dr Helmut Marko, who says he misses his breakfast buddy in the Barcelona test paddock.

'Thank God he is better'

Although rivals, Marko says he has a "respectful friendship" with the F1 legend.

READ: Niki Lauda's doctor rules out Melbourne flight

"It's an unfamiliar situation for me now. I'm lonely at breakfast and there's not someone who can replace him," Marko, a top Red Bull official, told RTL.

Hopes were high that Lauda, 70, could finally return to the paddock early in 2019 following his lung transplant of last year.

Marko, though, says the Mercedes team chairman needs more time.

"Thank God he is better, but it will take some time before he can be among so many people," he said.

Lauda's doctor Walter Klepetko said last week that Lauda cannot take the transcontinental flight to Melbourne, adding: "Large crowds are always a potential threat of infection".

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