Former Ferrari driver’s condition on the improve in French hospital.
Michael Schumacher is showing “small, encouraging signs” of recovery from injuries sustained in a ski accident, his family said Wednesday, while acknowledging the Formula One legend faced a long battle ahead.
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,” 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 champion.
“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. But no details have been given since.
Last month, his friend and former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa was quoted as saying that Schumacher 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.
The news of an improvement in Schumacher’s condition was greeted with relief by the sport’s current top German drivers taking part in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
“Very happy to hear good news about Michael here at Bahrain,” tweeted current world championship leader Nico Rosberg who was Schumacher’s teammate at Mercedes from 2010 until 2012.
“It’s fantastic to hear,” Rosberg told a news conference later. “I am very happy as is everybody else in the paddock. We know that his family would be very careful before releasing such good news. I hope he will continue to progress.”
Current world champion Sebastian Vettel said the latest update was good to hear.
“It’s great news for his family and for Formula One,” said Vettel.