On Friday, Former Formula One driver Alex Zanardi was involved in a horrific handbike accident in Italy, which left him in critical condition. The 53-year-old racer was involved in a crash with a lorry while he was participating in a handbike relay in the town of Pienza.

Zanardi was airlifted to a hospital in Siena, where he received emergency surgery after suffering a head injury due to the accident. He is currently still in critical but stable condition in the intensive care unit.

While on a downward slope, the Paralympian's handbike veered onto oncoming traffic. The lorry driver tried to swerve to avoid him, but it was too late. He had to undergo a three-hour long surgery but his surgeon says that "the neurological picture remains serious."

Despite having a successful surgery, the BBC reports that the Italian racer is not out of the woods yet. "Serious means he's in a situation where he could die, in these cases improvements can be very small over time and worsening can be sudden," his doctor said.

The auto racing community is collectively holding its breath to hear news about his condition. Everyone believes that he can pull through, considering what he has already survived.

Zanardi is a double amputee, after having lost both legs following a crash during the American Memorial 500 Cart race in 2001. He has since returned to racing against all odds. Instead of going back behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, he satisfied his need for speed through handbikes. He has won four gold medals in the Paralympics.

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte was one of the first to share a message to the fallen athlete. "You have never given up and with your extraordinary fortitude you have overcome a thousand difficulties," he said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, several Formula One teams and personalities also expressed their support on social media.

His former employers, the Williams F1 team, also posted a message:

Zanardi's condition remains serious, and the next few days will be a crucial. His doctors admitted that it can still go in either direction. For now, the only thing that can be done is wait.

Alex Zanardi
Alex Zanardi competing in the Rome Marathon in April 2017. AFP / Andreas SOLARO