Alex Albon has revealed doctors forced him to turn off the Italian Grand Prix after he woke unexpectedly from an induced coma.
The London-born Williams driver, 26, suffered respiratory failure, and was left on a ventilator following complications from laparoscopic surgery.
Speaking for the first time about his harrowing ordeal, Albon, who will return to his Formula One cockpit in Singapore on Friday, said: “I was supposed to be in induced sedation for two to three days, but in the end, my lungs cleared out within 12 hours.
“I woke up pretty much 30 minutes before the start of the race [in Monza]. It was frustrating to watch, and the heart rate went up a little bit. They were keeping an eye on me and they told me they had to switch it off.”
Albon was ruled out of the race in Italy with appendicitis and was transferred to nearby San Gerardo Hospital for treatment.
He underwent surgery on Saturday, but then ended up in intensive care and required assistance with breathing. He was removed from mechanical ventilation the following day before being given the green light to leave hospital and travel back to his home in Monaco 48 hours later.
“Luckily I was quite drugged up so I don’t remember much of it,” he added.
“I just remember obviously going into surgery. It’s a relatively simple procedure, it only takes a couple of hours to be operated on. But obviously you don’t understand time when you’re sedated.
“When I did wake up, I thought that was the procedure finished, and they said: ‘No, you’ve actually gone through a little bit more than that’.
“It wasn’t such a big thing for me, it was more my family who came to the race, and obviously they were in shock.”
Albon will take part in practice with a view to competing in Sunday’s 61-lap Grand Prix – despite the humidity of Singapore creating one of the hardest physical challenges of the season.
Albon continued: “It’s quite a tricky one because you’re basically waiting for your lungs to recover. And at the same time your body can’t move as well as it normally can.
“You can’t just jump back into normal training, you have to slowly build it up. We really started to push it last Monday. I treated training and recovery like a 9-to-5 job.
“Day by day it was getting better. Truthfully, we didn’t think Singapore was on the cards, but with the speed of the recovery, it definitely became possible.
“I feel like I am ready, and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could race.”