Formula 1 - Family 'not doing well' as Schumacher continues fight for life

Michael Schumacher's family have set up a bedside vigil as he continues to fight for his life in a French hospital.

The Formula One legend remains in "extremely serious" condition in an induced coma following surgery on a brain injury sustained in a ski crash in the French Alps.

His wife, Corinna, daughter Gina Maria and son Mick are all now with him in hospital but are in a state of shock over his condition.

"The family is not doing very well, obviously. They are shocked," his manager Sabine Kehm told reporters.

The team treating the seven-time world champion in hospital in Grenoble told a press conference on Monday that his situation remains critical and they could not predict what was going to happen.

Chief anaesthesiologist Professor Jean-Francois Payen said: "We cannot tell what the outcome will be yet. We are working hour-by-hour but it's too early to say what is going to happen and to have a prognosis."

The 44-year-old underwent surgery to reduce brain swelling and remove blood clots after hitting the right side of his head on a rock while skiing off-piste at Meribel in the French Alps on Sunday.

Schumacher suffered inter-cranial haematoma", which is bleeding between the brain and the skull which causes the brain to swell.

Doctors dismissed rumours he had had a second operation, and said there were no current plans for further surgery.

Professor Payen added that Schumacher’s life may have been saved by wearing a helmet, saying: "We think his helmet did help, without a helmet he wouldn't be here now."

Earlier on Monday a hospital spokesperson said: "Michael Schumacher was the victim of very serious trauma. He was very agitated when he arrived and we decided he was in a critical situation and he quickly went into a coma.

"The neurosurgical treatment he received brought us quite a lot of information. We had to operate urgently to release some pressure in his head. Unfortunately, he has some lesions within his brain."

Schumacher remains under the care of Professor Gerard Saillaint a brain and spinal injury expert who is also president of the FIA Institute.

The pair became friends after the doctor treated Schumacher’s broken leg sustained in a crash at Silverstone in 1999.

(Photo: An aerial view of a private hamlet at Meribel where Michael Schumacher owns a chalet)

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BACKGROUND

Retired seven-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher was in 'critical' condition with head injuries after an off-piste skiing accident in the French Alps resort of Meribel.

The 44-year-old German was in hospital in Grenoble.

"He suffered head trauma with coma that needed prompt neurosurgical treatment," Schumacher's agent Sabine Kehm said in a statement late on Sunday evening, which a hospital official read to reporters.

"He remains in a critical condition."

(Photo: Michael Schumacher was taken by helicopter to the CHU hospital in Grenoble)

Christophe Gernigon-Lecomte, the director of the Meribel ski resort where Schumacher has a holiday home, said earlier that the former champion was wearing a helmet when he fell and hit his head on a rock at around 11:00. CET (10:00 UK time).

He added that the German had been conscious while being transported first to a local hospital in Moutiers before then being transferred to Grenoble. "He was conscious but very agitated while being taken to hospital," said the director.

It is a feature of head injuries that the patient can initially appear relatively unhurt, before their condition worsens as the brain swells.

(Photo: A fan waits anxiously for updates outside the hospital in Grenoble)

In Germany, Schumacher's accident topped news bulletins, with the bestselling tabloid newspaper Bild reporting on its website: "Schumi fighting for his life".

Bild reporters also said that Ross Brawn, the Briton who worked with Schumacher at Ferrari and Mercedes as technical director and team principal respectively, had arrived in Grenoble.

The Formula One community, and the wider world of motorsport, reacted with shock and prayers on social network Twitter for the champion to win his biggest battle.

"If anyone can pull through, it's him," said Britain's triple Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti, who is still walking on crutches after a huge crash in October that ended his racing career.

"Come on Michael, give us one of those race stints at pure qualifying pace to win through, like you used to. You can do it," said Schumacher's former Benetton team mate Martin Brundle.

Former Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa, who suffered a near fatal head injury at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, said he was praying for his friend.

(Photo: File photo of Schumacher on a skiing trip in 2006)

Schumacher is the most successful Formula One driver of all time with a record 91 race victories in an extraordinary - and frequently controversial - career spanning more than two decades.

He won his first two titles with Benetton in 1994, the year when Brazilian triple champion Ayrton Senna died in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix, and 1995.

The German then took five in a row with Ferrari between 2000 and 2004 in what now seems a golden age for the Italian team who named a square after him at their Fiorano test track.

Schumacher left the sport last year after a less successful three-year comeback with Mercedes following an earlier retirement from Ferrari at the end of 2006. He lives in Switzerland with his wife and two children.

(Photo: Schumacher celebrates one of his 91 race wins, the 2006 Italian Grand Prix)