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F1: Schumacher drama continues a month after accident

Manager dismisses report driver emerging from coma

29 January, 17:30
F1: Schumacher drama continues a month after accident (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, January 29 - Anxiety continued in the world of sport for Michael Schumacher on Wednesday, a month to the day after the seven-time Formula One world champion suffered serious head injuries in a skiing accident in France.

The former Ferrari driver has been in a drug-induced coma since the accident.

The Italian team have been leading the demonstrations of affection and support as the 45-year-old German continues the biggest battle of his life.

"Dear Michael, having spent so many years at Ferrari, you became one of us," read a message on the team's website from Piero Ferrari, the company's vice chairman and the son of founder Enzo Ferrari.

"You thrilled us so often, bringing us great joy, but the greatest one is yet to come: namely seeing you here in Maranello again, to meet your second family, the Ferrari one. We are waiting for you". The message is one of 72 Ferrari are publishing to represent each of Schumacher's grand prix wins with them between 1996 and 2006, when he won five of his world titles.

The team are also paying tribute to Schumacher during the first set of pre-season Formula One tests in Jerez, Spain, this week, with #Forza Michael (Come on Michael), the hastag fans are using for messages of support via social media, written on the side of the race car.

There has been no official news about Schumacher's condition since doctors at the Grenoble hospital where he is staying said he was in a stable condition on January 6, following two operations to reduce swelling of the brain and remove blood clots.

French daily L'Equipe reported Wednesday that the former driver was responding well after doctors started the process of gradually bringing him out of the coma, but his manager dismissed the story as speculation.

"I insist again that every declaration concerning Michael's state of health that does not come from the medical team treating him or the management is nothing but speculation," said Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm.

"I repeat. We will not comment on any speculation".

On January 8 investigators gave their first full account of the accident in the French Alps, denying reports he was speeding recklessly or that he was in the process of helping a little girl when he fell and cracked his head on a rock.

"He deliberately chose to go into that zone," said Patrick Quincy from the Albertville prosecutor's office in France, which is investigating the accident on the Meribel slopes outside the driver's home there.

Prosecutors spoke after reviewing footage from a camera in a helmet Schumacher was wearing. Doctors said he would have died had he not been wearing the helmet.

"There are only two minutes of video, and you don't see Schumacher helping anyone," added Quincy. Albertville investigators said Schumacher, who also raced for the Jordan, Benetton and Mercedes teams, was skiing at an elevation of 2,700 metres, on a small off-piste area between a red and blue course.

"Schumacher is obviously a very good skiier," Quincy said.

"At one point his skis in fact touch a rock, he loses balance, and he falls forward and his head hits a rock which is 3.5 meters below".

Schumacher was found "inanimate" nine meters from the piste, one meter farther than the rock he struck, said Quincy. His precise speed has yet to be determined, but investigators stressed velocity is not an important factor in their probe.