Schumacher remains in a critical condition on Monday morning after suffering a brain haemorrhage in a skiing accident at the Meribel Alpina resort in the French Alps on Sunday, Dec. 29.
Schumacher’s former Mercedes F1 team tweeted that the German had “amazing fighting spirit,” and former rival David Coulthard told BBC Sport, "if anyone knows how to muster inner strength and determination then there's no doubt in my mind Michael Schumacher is the man to do it."
Jenson Button echoed Coulthard’s sentiments, saying, “Michael, more than anyone, has the strength to pull through this" and former teammate Martin Brundle delivered the heart-warming message, "Come on Michael, give us one of those race stints at pure qualifying pace to win through, like you used to. You can do it."
Come on Michael, give us one of those race stints at pure qualifying pace to win through, like you used to. You can do it.— Martin Brundle (@MBrundleF1) December 29, 2013
Michael Schumacher is an incredible man, a true giant of the sport and the benchmark to which every driver aspires to emulate. Heir apparent Sebastian Vettel appears the most likely to get closest to matching his seemingly unbreakable records, but Schumacher told BBC Sport that he would be happy for his countryman to do so:
A friend of mine achieving it, it stays 'in the family’. I always thought records were there to be broken. I didn't have statistics in my mind when I was racing. It was always a consequence — a nice consequence. I enjoyed it but it wasn't the reason I was racing.
Despite retiring from the sport with an incredible seven world titles under his belt, Schumacher remained actively involved in the sport in an advisory role at Ferrari. But there was still a burning desire to get back to doing what he knew best and when the opportunity of starting a new F1 era for the famous Mercedes team as a driver presented itself, he simply couldn’t turn it down.
His three-year return to the sport could hardly be classed as a success, and he was routinely upstaged by compatriot and rising star Nico Rosberg. Yet in no way did it serve to diminish his incredible legacy.
The quiet life has never been for Schumacher. His manager, Willy Weber, referred to him as an “adrenaline junkie,” according to The Guardian. Even in his early 40s, Schumacher kept a rigorous fitness routine and was recognised as being one of the fittest drivers on the grid despite being the sport’s elder statesman.
It was perhaps because of this that Lotus approached him to fill in for Kimi Raikkonen for the final two races of the season. They knew he was a man still in fantastic shape and with the ability to slot straight in at a moment’s notice. Experience is something you just can’t buy.
He must surely have been tempted, but his spokeswoman, Sabine Kehm, was quoted by Reuters as saying that Schumacher was content in his new life:
Michael's performance against Nico (Rosberg last year) and Nico's performance against Lewis (Hamilton this year) made a lot of people aware of how good Michael still was. Plus, he is still very fit. But he just feels so good in his new life.
The “new life” Kehm referred to involved the luxury of spending more time with his family while indulging his passion for horse riding and his love of other adrenaline sports such as riding motorcycles and skiing, which has sadly cast him in his current predicament.
My thoughts are with Michael Schumacher at this tough time.. Michael more than anyone has the strength to pull through this.— Jenson Button (@JensonButton) December 29, 2013
That same Schumacher spirit also courted controversy during his racing career. Consequently, he hasn’t always been everyone’s cup of tea. His collision with Damon Hill in Adelaide in 1994 won him few friends, and even fewer fans after his failed attempt to take title rival Jacques Villeneuve out of the final round three years later.
But it didn’t stop from bouncing back and winning five more titles for Ferrari. Any criticism levelled at him must have been like water off a duck’s back.
His single-minded determination turned him into a seven-time world champion. Schumacher's attitude was summed up by Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley, via the BBC:
What Michael represented in Formula 1 was the fight, the spirit and the absolute determination to win. Second was never good enough. He pushed everyone else along, and that's what's giving me a lot of hope right now. He's lying in a hospital bed in Grenoble and he needs that fighting spirit to pull through.