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Michael Schumacher: Formula One season begins with thoughts of unconscious star

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The 2014 Formula One racing season officially began today, Tuesday, Jan. 28 in a somber mood as other drivers expressed their hopes that superstar Michael Schumacher recover from the skiing accident he suffered about a month ago at an exclusive French resort, according to the London Daily Telegraph. Schumacher remains in a medically-induced coma in his hospital bed at Grenoble, France as first-rate doctors monitor his progress.

While current world champion Sebastian Vettel expressed his hope that his boyhood hero would fully recover from his injuries which occurred when his helmeted head struck a rock, today marked the first day of pre-season testing at Jerez, Spain. Schumacher, who won a record seven world championships during his spectacular career, turned 45 since he has been placed in the coma, according to CNN.

During his unparalleled career, he won two world championships for Benneton-Renault before later winning five consecutive world championships driving for Ferrari. He retired, but couldn't resist the lure of the racetrack when he made a comeback with Mercedes. It is ironic that Schumacher risked his life countless times on racetracks around the world from Brazil to Monte Carlo and never suffered an injury as critical as the one he suffered on the ski slopes of France.

Three-time world champion driver Niki Lauda, who was portrayed in the recent movie "Rush", also expressed his hopes that Schumacher would recover. The Ron Howard-directed movie portrayed the 1976 Formula One season in which Lauda dueled Britain's James Hunt for the world championship. Lauda was almost killed in a fiery crash at the Nurburgring track during that season which cost him the world championship.

Lauda and his Ferrari were engulfed in flames following a horrific crash on the dangerous racetrack. He almost died from inhaling fumes and smoke into his lungs for more than a minute before his fellow drivers rescued him from the fiery inferno. His face to this day bears the scars from that brush with death.

Ironically, the film portrays Lauda trying to persuade his fellow drivers not to race that day because conditions were unsafe. Hunt, who died from a heart attack in 1991, at age 45, is portrayed as persuading the other drivers to go ahead and race that fateful day.

Schumacher and Lauda both were considered intellectual drivers during their illustrious careers as they both were geniuses at setting up their cars to obtain superior results.

Schumacher is already ranked as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Formula One driver in history. No one else has won seven world championships. Juan Manuel Fangio with five world championships is second on the alltime list.

Schumacher's wife Corinne and their two children have maintained a constant bedside vigil as he heads into the fifth week of his stay at the hospital.

Doctors reportedly placed him in the medicaly induced coma to give his brain time to rest while it heals from the injuries. Schumacher's helmet reportedly split when his head hit the rock.

Some medical experts have said it is unusual for a patient to be placed in a medically-induced coma for more than two or three weeks. Doctors list the internationally famous driver as being in stable, but critical condition.

The Mercedes team has displayed a motto on their new car honoring the injured driver while Ferrari is also honoring its former leader. The motto reads, "Keep fighting, Michael."

Millions of his fans around the world share that sentiment.

Normally, the focus on this day would be which team had the quickest car in Spain, but this year everyone is concentrating on the progress their icon is making in his hospital bed.

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