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F1 legend Michael Schumacher shows 'small signs' of improvement

Michael Schumacher's family is "confident" the Formula One legend will recover from a life-threatening skiing accident that left him with severe brain injuries, a spokeswoman said Wednesday

London: Michael Schumacher has showed improvement in his "wake-up phase" and his family is confident that the seven-time Formula 1 world champion will recover from a life-threatening head injury he suffered while skiing at a French resort in December, the racing legend's manager Sabine Kehm informed Wednesday.

The family voiced confidence the 45-year-old would pull through after 11 weeks in a medically-induced coma but declined to give further details of his condition.

"We are and remain confident that Michael will pull through and will wake up. There sometimes are small, encouraging signs, but we also know that this is the time to be very patient," said Kehm.

Michael SchumacherMichael Schumacher. File Pic/Getty Images

The German driver was put into a coma after hitting his head on a rock while skiing at the French resort of Meribel on December 29.

Kehm released the statement ahead of the first Formula One grand prix of the year in Australia on Sunday. Drivers are expected to pay tribute to the seven-time world champion.

"Michael has suffered severe injuries. It is very hard to comprehend for all of us that Michael, who had overcome a lot of precarious situations in the past, has been hurt so terribly in such a banal situation.

"It was clear from the start that this will be a long and hard fight for Michael. We are taking this fight on together with the team of doctors, whom we fully trust. The length of the process is not the important part for us," she stressed.

Schumacher was skiing with his son and friends when he fell. He underwent two operations to remove life-threatening blood clots before being placed into a coma.

Doctors at the University of Grenoble hospital say they are now trying to bring him out of the coma but have not given details in recent weeks on their progress.

Schumacher's wife Corinna and other family members spend long hours at his bedside.

The agent said the Schumacher family was "extremely grateful" for sympathy shown.

But Kehm added, "It should not be forgotten that Michael's family is dealing with an extremely intimate and fragile situation. And I would like to remind all of us that Michael has always actively kept his family out of the public eye and consequently protected their private lives."

The family said on January 30 that drugs used to keep Schumacher in a coma were being reduced in a bid to help him awake. But no details have been given since.

Last month, his friend and former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa was quoted as saying thatSchumacher seemed to respond to him during a visit.

"He is sleeping, he looks normal and he showed a few responses with his mouth," Massa told German tabloid Bild.

Schumacher survived a motorbike accident in Spain in 2009, during which he suffered head and neck injuries but was released from hospital after just five hours.

And after years of racing in the risky world of Formula One, he retired but kept pursuing other high-thrill hobbies as the holder of a pilot's license, a motorbike rider, parachutist, skier and mountain climber.

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