Grenoble (France): Michael Schumacher is showing "small, encouraging signs" of recovery from injuries sustained in a ski accident, his family said yesterday, while acknowledging the Formula One legend faced a long battle ahead.
With the new F1 season just around the corner, and with speculation growing about Schumacher's condition given he has now spent almost 11 weeks in a coma after a skiing accident at the end of December, a fresh statement has been issued regarding the 45-year-old on behalf of his family.
When all was well: Formula One ace Michael Schumacher with wife Corinna and (Inset) Schumi's agent Sabine Kehm. Pics/Getty Images
"We are and remain confident that Michael will pull through and will wake up," said the statement. "There sometimes are small, encouraging signs, but we also know that this is the time to be very patient."
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.
Schumacher's agent Sabine 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
"Michael has suffered severe injuries," added the statement. "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." The family said they are ready to "fight" on for Schumacher with the doctors "whom we fully trust," added the statement.
"The length of the process is not the important part for us." 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.
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 F1, 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.