Michael Schumacher's family said in a statement to the racer's website on Friday that they are "overwhelmed" and "deeply grateful" at the outpouring of support shown by Ferrari and racing fans outside the hospital on his 45th birthday. The racer remains in stable but critical condition in a French hospital following a skiing accident last Sunday.
According to Mr. Schumacher's official website, the family's statement reads: "We are overwhelmed! The incredible sympathies shown today by the Ferrari Fans outside the hospital has utterly overwhelmed us and moved us all to tears. We are deeply grateful for it and also for all the heartwarming and heartfelt wishes for Michael to get well soon, which have reached us from all over the world."
The official Ferrari website also posted a statement to the racer on his birthday. "This is a special day for Ferrari and all its fans, as it is Michael Schumacher’s birthday. At the moment, he is tackling the most important fight of his life and therefore we want to send him very special wishes."
On Saturday, Ferrari reported that more than 200 fans had shown up for its silent red vigil outside Grenoble University Hospital, where Michael Schumacher remains in a coma. "Over two hundred fans from Italian and French Scuderia Ferrari Clubs converged on the Grenoble university hospital today," the team said in a statement to its website, "while many others, from Germany and Spain, responded to the call from Ferrari, to pay a special tribute to Michael Schumacher on his 45th birthday."
"They traveled for many hours by car and coach, six from northern Italy, in a gesture of support for the family and those close to the German driver, to show how much he means to the fans and to each and every one of them goes the thanks of Ferrari."
The statement continues, "The Ferrari Heart which was displayed today in the hospital car park in the French city was held up by the hands of those present but also metaphorically by the strength of the millions of fans from around the world who today are even closer than ever to Michael, as he fights the hardest challenge of his life."
Ferrari remains in close touch with the driver's family and "are continuously watching how his situation evolves."
In 2013, Ferrari Fernando Alonso came in second in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship for drivers, and Ferrari came in third in the constructors' championship. When Michael Schumacher drove for the team, it won five consecutive world championships in the early 2000s after he won two championships driving for Benetton earlier in his career.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Connie Ann Kirk, Ph.D. has been credentialed by the FIA to write about Formula 1. With a historic racer from upstate New York, she is writing a book about racers and racing.