Schumacher Supporters Gather at Hospital on 45th Birthday

Busloads of Formula One fans arrived for a silent act of support at the French hospital where seven-time champion Michael Schumacher turned 45 today while being treated for a head injury.

Schumacher suffered contusions to the brain as well as hemorrhaging when he crashed while skiing Dec. 29. He fell and struck his head on a rock on an unmarked slope in Meribel in the French Alps. He would have died had he not been wearing a helmet, his doctors said.

His former Ferrari team’s official fan club said in a Facebook post yesterday it was organizing the “silent and respectful event” outside the CHU Grenoble hospital to coincide with Schumacher’s birthday today.

Dozens of fans carrying red Ferrari flags and banners came in coaches from across France and Italy today, Agence France-Presse reported.

Schumacher’s doctors described his condition as critical Dec. 31 after a second brain operation to reduce pressure in his skull. They said that, although there was some improvement, it was too early to make a prognosis for the German, who was placed in an artificial coma.

The following day the former champion’s spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said he remained stable and added that there wouldn’t be daily updates on his situation unless it changed significantly,

Schumacher’s family, in a message on his website, said they had been “overwhelmed” by the fans’ support today.

‘Deeply Grateful’

“The incredible sympathy shown today by the Ferrari fans outside the hospital has utterly overwhelmed us and moved us all to tears,” the family said. “We are deeply grateful for it and also for all the heart-warming and heartfelt wishes for Michael to get well soon, which have reached us from all over the world.”

Schumacher won Formula One titles with the Benetton team in 1994 and 1995 and took five consecutive championships with Ferrari from 2000 to 2004. He left Formula One after the 2012 campaign following a three-season comeback during which he didn’t win a race.

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