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Michael Schumacher: Felipe Massa to honor comatose champion at Australian race

MIchael Schumacher.....shown with Felipe Massa who will honor him at first race.
MIchael Schumacher.....shown with Felipe Massa who will honor him at first race.
ABC News

While seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher remains in a coma, his former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa will honor him in the first race of the season this weekend, according to ABC News. Massa, a Brazilian, said he will drive with the initials "MS" inscribed across his helmet in the season opener at Melbourne.

The 45-year old Schumacher is showing "small, encouraging signs" of recovery, according to his manager Sabine Kehm in a statement released Wednesday.

Schumacher suffered a severe head injury Dec. 29 in the French Alps as his skis struck a snow-covered rock sending him ariborne for 34 feet. His helmet was split when he struck a larger rock causing the serious injuries he is now fighting. His wife Corinna along with father Rolf and brother Ralf have spent many hours by his bedside trying to talk him out of the coma which is now in its tenth week.

On Thursday Massa tweeted, "Michael is always with me!! Be very strong Brother!! #19." He signed of with the number of his Williams race car.

Massa also told a news conference, "I always think about him every day. I'm praying for him every day."

Massa, who was Schumacher's teammate at Ferrari, has remained close with the 91-race winner since Michael retired, came back with Mercedes and then retired again. Massa has also visited Michael in his hospital room and said he saw the comatose champion move his lips in response to something he said.

Jean Todt, who was the leader at Ferrari during Schumacher's record breaking streak of five consecutive world championships, also said he has been spending time with Schumacher as he fights to emerge from his coma. Todt is currently President of the Federation International de l'Automobile (FIA).

Todt also told The Daily Telegraph newspaper that he monitors Michael's situation on a daily basis. Todt further said, "I can tell you that we still have big hopes for Michael."

Ross Brawn, who was with Schumacher through all seven world championships, has also visited the stricken champion. Brawn began his own F-1 team after departing the Prancing Horses of Ferrari.

Schumacher won his first two championships in the 1990s with Benetton and Benetton-Renault.

Sebastian Vettal, the reigning Formula One champion, said Michael was his boyhood idol and he hopes for his recovery, He said he and Schumacher became closer when they raced for different teams in Formula One during Michael's comeback with Mercedes.

Vettal will be trying to win his fifth consecutive championship at the first race in Melbourne this weekend driving for Red Bull which uses Reanult engines.

Schumacher is the only F-1 driver to ever win five straight world championships and a total of seven. Juan Manuel Fangio is next five total championships while Alain Prost, of France has four along with Vettel.

Massa further said this week, "He's on my helmet and I'll keep praying and hope that things can be okay for him and he's coming back."

The hopes of millions of fans around the world received a boost this week when Kehm reported there were small signs of improvement in the seven time world champion. What those small signs were have not been revealed. Experts have said it could be anything from a blink to breathing off the ventilator.

But Kehm has not been specific as to exactly what the signs of recovery have been.

She also cautioned recovery could be very lengthy for such a serious head injury.

Doctors at University Hospital of Grenoble, France, reportedly performed two surgeries to remove blood clots and hematomas from his brain. They have also reduced the sedatives which placed him into the deep sleep so his brain could heal more easily.

A Hollywood finsih this weekend would include Michael regaining consciousness as the Grand Prix race in Australia commences. For devoted wife Corinna and and family, the time of his waking up cannot come too soon.

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