Mexico City - Niki Lauda is recovering from his lung transplant, cracking jokes and putting pressure on Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to triumph at this weekend's Mexican Grand Prix.
The amazing recovery of the three-time world champion Austrian put a smile on Hamilton's face ahead of Sunday's race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez where he is seeking his fifth drivers' title.
"He's obviously very much in touch with everyone here at the team," Hamilton, who had spoken to Lauda by telephone, told reporters. "He's such a racer. He loves a car!
"He was upset we didn't win the last race - he says he wants us to win here."
Lauda, who survived a blazing crash while racing in 1976, was released from hospital in Vienna earlier this week, two months after a lung transplant operation following an illness that had threatened to take his life.
"It's great news about Niki," said Hamilton. "I spoke to him and I had a nice call from him just a week ago and he said he was hoping to get released from intensive care."
Hamilton added that Lauda was now in intensive rehab, working hard to regain his strength.
"He's still very much the same character, very funny on the phone, always cracking jokes," he said. "He's in good spirits."
Hamilton needs to outscore Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by five points to claim his fifth title, but has said he wants to succeed in style with a victory in Sunday's race.