Michael Schumacher's wife Corinna has appealed for privacy, as her husband fights for his life in a hospital in the French Alps. She specifically asked reporters to "take the pressure off the doctors and the hospital."
Corinna Schumacher on Tuesday appealed to the media to "support us in our battle together with Michael," as the seven-time Formula One world champion remains in a medically-induced coma after sustaining major head injuries while skiing.
"It is important for me that you take the pressure off the doctors and the hospital, so that they can work in peace," Corinna Schumacher said in Grenoble. "Please trust their statements and leave the clinic. Please leave our family in peace, too."
Reporters have kept vigil outside the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) in Grenoble since Schumacher was airlifted there with life-threatening head injuries on December 29.
Besieged emergency clinic
Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm suggested last week that the hospital was growing increasingly frustrated by the heavy attention, citing blockages to the entrance and exit of the alpine clinic, where many badly-injured skiers receive emergency treatment. Kehm said that a person who she thought was a journalist had tried to gain entry to Schumacher's hospital room while disguised as a priest. Fans also flocked to the hospital last Friday, some of them traveling for hours, to mark Schumacher's 45th birthday, projecting well-wishes onto the side of the building.
On Monday, longstanding manager Kehm and the medical team both issued brief updates on Schumacher's largely unchanged condition.
"The clinical state of Michael Schumacher is stable as he's under permanent care and treatment," the doctors' statement said. "However, the medical team in charge stresses that it continues to assess his situation as critical."
Last week, on Monday and Tuesday, senior doctors from the CHU twice briefed the press on overnight operations that Schumacher had undergone. The medical team, not least chief neurosurgeon Jean-Francois Payen, occasionally appeared frustrated during these question-and-answer sessions, prefacing many responses with phrases like "as I've already said," and "to reiterate."
The doctors had to repeatedly stress that they were not in a position to offer prognoses on whether Schumacher would recover and what health hazards he could be exposed to: "With intensive medical care like this, things can change quickly - for the better or for worse," Payen said.
The seven-time Formula One drivers' champion fell and hit his head off-piste near the French resort of Meribel. Doctors have said the skiing helmet he was wearing probably saved his life.
Investigators to share findings
Investigators in nearby Albertville, seeking to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the crash, have announced a press conference for Wednesday morning. French news website ledauphine.com on Tuesday reported that the camera on Schumacher's helmet was running at the time of the accident.
Patrick Quincy's investigative team had also expressed interest in seeing footage of the crash apparently filmed by chance by a German skier. The man, identified as a 35-year-old flight attendant from the western German city of Essen, told this week's edition of Der Spiegel that he would be happy to pass on his smartphone recording.
Schumacher, a keen skier, is F1's most successful driver, associated in particular with the Italian team Ferrari, for whom he won five consecutive drivers' titles from 2000 to 2004. The start of this winning streak was also the end of 21 barren years for Ferrari, the longest dry spell in the history of Formula One's most successful team.
msh/ph (AFP, dpa, SID, Reuters)