The retired seven-times Formula One racing champion, Michael Schumacher, was reported to be in a coma in hospital on Sunday night after striking his head on a rock while skiing in the French Alps. An update on his condition is due at 10am GMT on Monday.
Schumacher, 44, was initially said to have escaped without a life-threatening injury but French media later reported that he had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and that his condition had dramatically worsened.
An eminent French orthopedic and trauma surgeon Gérard Saillant – a friend of Schumacher’s – flew from Paris to Grenoble to take charge of his treatment.
In a statement, the university hospital in Grenoble said that Schumacher was “in a coma” when he arrived there on Sunday afternoon. “He was suffering from a serious head trauma and was in a coma, necessitating immediate brain surgery,” the hospital said.
Schumacher fell on Sunday while skiing off-piste with his 14-year- old son and friends at Meribel, where he owns a chalet. He was due to celebrate his 45th birthday on Friday.
He was flown by helicopter to a local hospital but transferred by air to a trauma unit in Grenoble when his condition worsened.
“The life of the former racing driver is now regarded as being in danger,” the local newspaper, le Dauphiné Libéré, reported last night without revealing the source of its information.
RMC radio also reported on its sports website that Schumacher had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and was in a “critical condition”.
Career in Pictures: Michael Schumacher
Career in Pictures: Michael Schumacher
1/17 February 2006
Michael Schumacher is seen in the pits during a training session at the Ricardo Tormo racetrack in Cheste near Valencia in 2006
2/17 November 1994
Hugging two team mechanics in delight for becoming World Champion Driver after the Australian Grand Prix at the Adelaide circuit in November 1994
3/17 October 1995
Flavio Briatore carries a jubilant Michael after he wins the Pacific F1 Grand Prix at Aida in Japan, and wins his second World Drivers Championshp
4/17 February 1996
Schmacher pushes his Ferrari back to the pits after engine trouble left him stranded at the entrance of the pitlane during pre-season testing at Estoril, Portugal
5/17 March 1996
During the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne
6/17 March 1997
Michael Schumacher in the pit lane during the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia
7/17 October 2000
Celebrating on the podium after winning the formula one world championship at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, Japan
8/17 July 2006
Michael Schumacher of Germany and Ferrari leads the pack into the first corner at the start of the French Formula One Grand Prix at the Nevers Magny-Cours Circuit
Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images
9/17 October 2010
Michael Schumacher drives during the Korean Formula One Grand Prix at the Korea International Circuit
Clive Mason/Getty Images
10/17 October 2011
Michael Schumacher and Mercedes GP waves to the crowd as he attends the drivers parade before the Indian Formula One Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit on October 30, 2011 in Noida, India
11/17 December 2011
Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher celebrate after winning the Nations Cup at day one of the race of champions event at the Esprit Arena
12/17 June 2012
Michael Schumacher drives at the Valencia Street Circuit on June 22, 2012 in Valencia during the first practice race of the European Formula One Grand Prix
13/17 September 2012
Michael Schumacher crashes into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne of France and Scuderia Toro Rosso during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix in September 2012
14/17 November 2012
Schumacher drives in his last race during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
15/17 December 2013
Deputy director Jean Marc Grenier talks to media outside the CHU Nord hospital in Grenoble, French Alps
16/17 December 2013
Members of the staff are seen outside the emergency services at the CHU Nord hospital in Grenoble, French Alps; this is the hospital where retired seven-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher is reported to be hospitalized after a ski accident
17/17 December 2013
A Scuderia Ferrari and Michael Schumacher fan waits, on December 29, in Grenoble, in front of the emergency department of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire hospital
Schumacher, the most successful ever Formula One driver with 91 victories, was wearing a helmet when he fell. Christopher Gernigon-Lecomte, director of the exclusive resort in the Three Valleys region near Chambéry said: “He was conscious but very agitated while being taken to hospital.”
The gendarmerie mountain rescue team said during the afternoon that Schumacher had suffered a “relatively serious” head injury.
The former racing driver’s manager, Sabine Kehm, told the Associated Press: “We ask for understanding that we cannot give running updates on his condition. He wore a helmet and was not alone.”
The German driver retired from Formula One for the second time last year. He lives in Switzerland with his wife and two children.