Alex Zanardi able to return home after 76 days in hospital

Jon Wilde
Alex Zanardi during an interview. Milan June 2019.

Alex Zanardi during an interview. Milan June 2019.

After his latest two-and-a-half month stay in hospital, former F1 driver Alex Zanardi has been able to return home.

The 55-year-old Italian was taken to hospital in early July following a fire at his home in Padua which damaged equipment upon which he depends.

Having had his legs amputated in 2001 following a crash in an IndyCar race at the Lausitzring in Germany, Zanardi transitioned from being a racing driver to a four-time gold medal-winning Paralympic hand cyclist.

But in June 2020, Zanardi was involved in another serious accident during a race in which he suffered life-threatening head injuries, spending 18 months in hospital.

He was discharged last December to continue his recovery at home, but a fire in the solar panel system at his villa in northern Italy caused damage to the machines he needs for his everyday life.

The news of Zanardi being able to return home was confirmed by Giannettore Bertagnoni, director of the Complex Operative Unit for Functional Recovery and Rehabilitation at the San Bortolo hospital in Vicenza where the starter of 44 F1 races was being treated.

“The patient was stabilised according to the procedures that distinguish our recovery and functional rehabilitation unit, which starts from the most sophisticated instrumental diagnostic investigations to define the patient’s condition and recovery potential,” said Bertagnoni, quoted by Motorbox.

“On the basis of this, a recovery plan is developed and implemented that is always customised and multi-disciplinary, the result of intensive work made possible by the presence of adequate resources in terms of experience, skills, personnel and technology.”

The Vicenza institution is considered among the best in Italy in its field and among the most renowned in Europe.

Zanardi raced in Formula 1 in each season between 1991 and 1994, for Jordan, Minardi and Lotus, but did not complete a full campaign. His best result was sixth for Lotus at the 1993 Brazilian Grand Prix.

However, his career really took off in the CART series of IndyCar racing where he captured the title back-to-back for the Chip Ganassi team in 1997 and 1998.

That success earned him another chance in F1 with Williams in 1999, but it lasted only a solitary season as he retired from 11 of the 16 races with a best result of seventh in his home grand prix at Monza.

After missing 2000, Zanardi returned to CART in 2001 and after his accident continued racing, winning the Italian Superturismo Championship in 2005.

He was a two-time hand cycling gold medallist at both the 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games.

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