Schumacher fans flock to hospital for birthday vigil
Scores of Michael Schumacher's fans converged on a hospital in the French Alps to honour the Formula One great on his 45th birthday, just days after he was critically injured in a skiing accident.
Schumacher has been in a medically induced coma since Sunday, when he struck his head on a rock while on a family holiday.
About 100 fans came by bus from Italy or by car from northern France and other places, saying they felt compelled to honour a man who had given them so many reasons to celebrate in the past.
"With all the joy he has given us, it was important for us to return the favour and be here for Michael," said Gulio Carissomi, who had from Italy to reach Grenoble.
One group of fans quietly assembled in view of the Grenoble hospital's windows, unfurling a large banner for Ferrari, the racing team that Schumacher had anchored.
The seven-time F1 champion has undergone two brain operations since the accident. Doctors are keeping him sedated and his body at an artificially low temperature to help with the healing.
Specialists at the hospital have refused to give a prognosis for Schumacher, saying they are focused on his immediate care.
Schumacher, known affectionately as Schumi by fans, is the most successful F1 driver in history, racking up a record 91 race wins. He retired in 2012.
Ferrari sent birthday greetings to Schumacher yesterday, recalling the 72 victories he won from 1996-2006." Today is Michael Schumacher's birthday. In these hours he's on the most important race of his life and we want to dedicate a special honour to him," the statement said. "Forza (Come on) Michael!"
In a statement, Schumacher's family thanked fans for their support.
"We all know he is a fighter and will not give up," they posted on Schumacher's website.