The words ‘Keep fighting Michael’ are to remain on Mercedes’ dominant F1 car.
The German squad – F1 legend Michael Schumacher’s last grand prix team during his 2010-2012 comeback – has been running the twitter hashtag on the cockpit of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s silver W05 all year.
But better news is now emerging from the Schumacher camp. His management has confirmed he is no longer in a coma, and he has been moved from intensive care in Grenoble to a rehabilitation ward in Lausanne, near his Swiss home. The Swiss tabloid Blick on Wednesday said the great German travelled the 200 kilometres between France and Switzerland on Monday by ambulance, and Bild newspaper quotes chief neurosurgeon Richard Frackowiak as confirming the transfer went “very, very well”.
Ambulance staff reportedly had to surrender their mobile phones prior to the journey, and Schumacher’s booking was done under a false name to protect his privacy. Nonetheless, further details have emerged. Blick said reports that Schumacher has lost a lot of weight are true, but that Schumacher – who was awake for much of the trip – was able to communicate to the ambulance staff by nodding his head.
Robert Belvi, the chief neurologist at a Barcelona university hospital, said the latest developments in the Schumacher story are positive. “Waking from a coma means establishing contact with the environment,” he told Spain’s AS newspaper, “for instance the patient can respond to simple commands — open or close your eyes, stick out your tongue. “If he obeys, there is a clear communication between the brain and the environment. Coming out of coma really is a very good prognosis. “Schumacher has answered the first question: is he awake or in a vegetative state. Now we have to see where the recovery goes, and hopefully it is to 100 per cent. “It’s difficult to see the same person as before, in terms of language, movement. This all depends on the injuries he has suffered. “But when a patient has woken up, things usually go very fast. The first three months will decide what is Schumacher’s pace of recovery and what the lasting injuries will be,” Dr Belvi added.
World champion Sebastian Vettel and Schumacher’s former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg this week have both said they do not plan to visit Schumacher at this stage. “That would not be inappropriate,” Rosberg told Bild, “as I’m not in his immediate circle of friends.” But he tipped Schumacher to eventually win his toughest battle.
“I remember one of his last races, in Austin, he was still flat out on every lap even though we were fighting for tenth place or something,” the German recalled. “Then he sat down with us for a two-hour debriefing. After what he achieved in his career, you could forgive him for doing something else, but not him. “That’s why I know that if anyone can fight back from this, it’s Schumi,” added Rosberg.
So, for now, the Mercedes stickers are staying on the team’s championship-leading 2014 car. “The Schumi sticker will stay on the car as long as Michael is fighting his difficult fight,” confirmed team boss Toto Wolff.
Image: Mercedes GP