Fans of F1 legend Michael Schumacher have been given a rare update on his condition. In December 2013 Schumacher, 52, suffered a severe brain injury whilst skiing in the French Alps, and was subsequently placed in a medically induced coma.
Since 2014, he has been cared for by his family at home in Geneva, and his wife Corinna has always preferred to keep his condition private.
In September, Netflix released the film Schumacher, which contained unseen footage of the star’s early motorsport career and emphasised the impact his accident has had on his close family and friends.
However, the documentary stopped short of providing a medical update for the man who won a joint-record seven world championship titles, five of which came with Ferrari.
Now though, the man who brought him to the Italian giants in 1996, Jean Todt, has given rare insight into the German’s plight.
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“I can understand why his family and friends are protecting him because we should leave him in peace,” said Todt, in an interview with the Daily Mail.
Todt, 75, is one of the few figures who has been permitted to regularly visit Schumacher in the past eight years, given the pair’s close relationship when both the driver, and Ferrari, dominated F1 in the early part of the century.
“Michael is fighting, he is fighting, and we can only hope that he will improve,” added Todt.
The Frenchman is currently President of the FIA and was speaking in Mexico ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix, where Schumacher’s son Mick will seek a first championship point of the season with Haas.
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“I am happy that his son Mick is in Formula One. He is doing well. He could have a more competitive car but I am pleased he has this passion.
“I am happy that Gina-Maria (Michael’s daughter) has found her passion in horses.”
Whilst Todt also revealed he will often have dinner with Corinna when he visits the family home, he refused to disclose if he thinks Schumacher recognises the man to whom he owes so much of his success.
Todt was the general manager of Ferrari from 1994 to 2007, and continued for two years after that as team CEO and general advisor.
In 2009, he left to take up his current role at the FIA, where he is currently in the final stages of his third four-year term.
His successor is most likely to be his long-time deputy Graham Stoker, a 69-year-old British barrister, subject to the results of an election next month.
Since April 2015, Todt has been Special Envoy for Road Safety to the UN Secretary-General, firstly Ban Ki-moon and now Antonio Guterres.