Schumacher fans hold birthday vigil for injured driver

Fans on why they wanted to mark the F1 star's birthday at the hospital

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Fans of Michael Schumacher have held a vigil outside his hospital to mark the injured F1 legend's 45th birthday.

Schumacher's family said in a statement they had been moved to tears by the "incredible sympathies" shown by the Ferrari fans who gathered outside the clinic in the French city of Grenoble.

They said they were "utterly overwhelmed" and "deeply grateful".

The driver is in a medically induced coma after suffering head injuries while skiing in the French Alps.

He remains in a stable but critical condition, his manager has said.

The German champion, who retired in 2012, had been skiing off-piste when he fell and hit his head on Sunday. His helmet cracked on impact after hitting a rock.

At the scene

Dressed in red, the colour of Ferrari's famous racing cars, some fans waved flags and sang Happy Birthday to Michael Schumacher as they arrived or brought him cards to mark the day he turns 45.

Others were more sombre. One woman cried as she shared her memories of the most successful F1 star of all time and said she was still in shock following his accident.

Many spoke of the irony that a driver who regularly risked his life on the race track ended up so severely injured on a family skiing holiday.

Their presence will be an ongoing comfort to the star's family who remain by his bedside and have already thanked fans around the world for their many messages of support.

Supporters held a one-minute silence outside the hospital on Friday afternoon.

Ferrari - the racing team with which Schumacher had 72 of his 91 F1 wins - said in a statement that it wanted to send him very special wishes for his birthday as he tackled "the most important fight of his life".

Members of Ferrari clubs in France and Italy travelled to Grenoble to mark the birthday of the most successful driver in Formula 1 history.

Doctors confirmed on Tuesday that Schumacher had shown signs of improvement, but was still "not out of danger".

They ruled out giving a prognosis for his condition in the coming days and months.

But it is medically possible for someone to spend several weeks in an induced coma and make a full recovery.

Fans gather outside the Grenoble University Hospital Centre to mark the 45th birthday of former German Formula One driver Michael Schumacher (3 Jan 2014) Michael Schumacher gained his greatest success driving for Ferrari
Ferrari fans from France, Italy and Germany display a giant Ferrari flag as they attend a silent 45th birthday tribute to seven-times former Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher (3 Jan 2014) Fans displayed a giant Ferrari flag outside the hospital
A woman cries as fans gather outside the Grenoble University Hospital Centre (3 Jan 2014) For some fans the silent vigil was an emotional moment
Schumacher fans David and Samuel with birthday card (3 Jan 2014) David Cacciatore and his 12-year-old son Samuel brought a birthday card for Schumacher
Corinna Schumacher arriving at hospital (3 Jan 2014) Schumacher's wife Corinna and family have thanked fans for their support
'Sign of closeness'

Ferrari said buses had been organised to transport the Italian and French fans to Grenoble for the tribute.

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher
  • Born: 3 January 1969
  • First GP win: Belgium 1992
  • Last GP win: China 2006
  • Races started: 303
  • Wins: 91 (155 podium finishes)
  • Championships: 7 (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004)

Spokesman Renato Bisignani said people were encouraged to dress in red and bring flags, as "a sign of closeness to Michael Schumacher, done in a very respectful way".

A large Ferrari banner was unveiled.

Michael Schumacher retired from F1 for a second time in 2012.

He won seven world championships and secured 91 race victories during his 19-year career.

The driver won two titles with Benetton, in 1994 and 1995, before switching to Ferrari in 1996 and going on to win five straight titles from 2000.

He retired in 2006 but made a comeback in F1 with Mercedes in 2010.

After three seasons which yielded just one podium finish, he quit the sport at the end of last year.

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