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Michael Schumacher: Conflicting messages over health of F1 legend overshadow build-up to new season

The German remains in an induced coma following a skiiing accident late last year

As Formula 1 prepares for the official kick-off of its brave new world in Melbourne's Albert Park this weekend, Michael Schumacher's family today issued one of its increasingly rare statements about the health of the 45-year-old former multiple world champion who remains in a medically induced coma in hospital in Grenoble following his skiing accident in Meribel on December 29, some two-and-a-half months ago.

"We are and remain confident that Michael will pull through and will wake up," said the statement issued by Schumacher's personal assistant Sabine Kehm, who has refused to disclose further details of his medical progress.

"There sometimes are small, encouraging signs, but we also know that this is the time to be very patient. 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.

"We try to channel all the energies we have toward Michael and we firmly believe that this will help him. And we believe that he will also win this fight."

The family's last statement came at the end of January when the process began to bring Schumacher out of his coma. The fact that this process was unsuccessful during February has been taken as a negative sign and the new statement is widely seen as the family putting a brave situation upon an increasingly grave situation which continues to overshadow the start of the new F1 season.


It runs counter to considerable speculation among respected figures within the neurological profession that the longer it takes to bring him out of his induced coma the less likely are his chances of pulling through to make a successful recovery that would enable him to lead life to a satisfying and fulfilling level. Objective judgement, however, is impossible to make in such a difficult situation.

Schumacher's former team-mate in the Mercedes-Benz world sportscar championship team in 1990, Austrian Karl Wendlinger, suffered a serious head injury of his own after a crash in Monaco in 1994 weeks after the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna but was brought out of induced coma within 10 days and eventually recovered fully.

"My family was told every head injury is different in its characteristics," Wendlinger said. "So I think we should not compare the time in coma between people who have suffered one. Maybe they have to keep Michael a little bit longer quiet until they take him out of coma. For sure for the family it is a tough time. My wife and my parents told me that every report from the hospital or next meeting with the doctors was very difficult because you never know how good or bad the new informations are going to be."