On Michael Schumacher's 45th birthday, January 3, the Formula 1 racing team that he gave five of his seven championship wins held a silent, scarlet vigil outside the hospital where he lay in a coma, recovering from a severe head injury sustained in a skiing accident on December 29. Ferrari asked fans via its Facebook page to participate in any way they could in showing support on Friday. At the same time, the Schumacher family issued its first public statement of thanks on the driver's website.
Ferrari stated on Facebook, "In these difficult days and on the occasion of his birthday the Scuderia Ferrari Clubs want to show their support for Michael Schumacher, organizing tomorrow a silent and respectful event all in Red at the Grenoble University Hospital Center." Fans who cannot get to Grenoble were urged to contact their nearest Ferrari Club to see how they might participate remotely.
Dozens of fans dressed in Ferrari's signature red stood outside the Grenoble University Hospital Center Friday, according to CNN. Their purpose was not to be loud or disrupt his care but to respectfully show support on the 45th birthday of the retired racer. One fan who spoke to CNN stated that he had been a fan of "Schumi's" since he was a little boy and that "it means a lot to be here today."
Messages of support were acknowledged by Mr. Schumacher's family via his official website on Friday. A statement posted there reads, "Thank you for your support. Following Michael's skiing accident, we would like to thank the people from all around the world who have expressed their sympathy and sent their best wishes for his recovery. They are giving us great support."
"We all know he is a fighter and will not give up. Thank you."
Earlier in the week, Ferrari had stated that the team, including its president, Luca di Montezemolo, were in "a state of anxiety" over their former driver's ski accident in the French Alps. While skiing, Mr. Schumacher's manager, Sabine Kehm, has said, he may have hit a rock that catapulted him into the air. He hit his head on a rock when landing; the impact was so severe that it broke his helmet, she said. An official investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing.
No changes in the racer's medical condition have been announced by doctors since Tuesday when a scan showed "slight improvement" after a second operation to release pressure on the brain took place Monday night. On Wednesday, Ms. Kehm said that his condition was "stable." Michael Schumacher remains in critical condition.
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 new book about racers and racing.