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Schumacher condition remains critical, as well-wishes pour in

Doctors treating Michael Schumacher have said his condition remains critical and it's too early to say whether he will recover. The German former F1 world champion remains in a coma after a skiing accident on Sunday.

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Schumacher in critical condition

Michael Schumacher will be kept in an artificially-induced coma for the foreseeable future as he is treated for

critical head injuries sustained in a skiing accident,

doctors at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Grenoble said on Monday.

The medical team said the 44-year-old was fighting for his life and remained in a critical condition but that it was still too soon to offer any prognoses on his chances of recovery.

"At the moment we cannot issue any pronouncements on the future of Michael Schumacher," Jean-Francois Payen said. "He is in a critical situation and we can say that he's fighting for his life."

The doctors confirmed that Schumacher had "lesions on his brain," and also said that the crash helmet he was wearing would certainly have helped in the accident, possibly saving his life. Schumacher fell while skiing off-piste with his son near the Meribel resort in the French Alps on Sunday, hitting his head on a rock.

Schumachers ask for privacy

The doctors also said Schumacher had undergone just one operation, contradicting some earlier media reports, adding that they currently saw no need for a second session in surgery. Schumacher's German doctor Johannes Peil appeared at the press conference, but said he had flown into Grenoble primarily as a friend of the family.

Schumacher's wife Corinna and two children were the only people permitted access to his hospital room, they issued a statement thanking the medical team for their efforts.

"We would also ask the media to respect our privacy and that of our friends, as well as thanking you for your support," the family said in a joint statement released via Schumacher's long-term manager and friend, Sabine Kehm.

FIA President Jean Todt, Ferrari's team principal during Schumacher's time behind the wheel of a prancing horse, and technical expert Ross Brawn, who accompanied Schumacher at Benetton, Ferrari and later Mercedes, also flew to France to offer their support.

Skiing has long been one of Schumacher's hobbies,

with the European ski season coinciding with the traditional off-season for Formula One.

Best wishes from far and wide

Schumacher's sudden and serious injuries prompted thousands of fans, friends and former rivals to wish the 44-year-old a speedy recovery.

"I am shocked and hope that he recovers as quickly as possible. I wish his family strength at this time," current F1 champion Sebastian Vettel, Germany's second after Schumacher, told the DPA news agency on Monday.

"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, a former Benetton teammate of Schumacher's and a longstanding F1 television commentator, wrote on Twitter.

Other German athletes - from Dirk Nowitzki to Lukas Podolski, Sabine Lisicki and Boris Becker - and international sports stars issued similar messages of support and sadness on Monday.

Steffen Seibert, Angela Merkel's spokesman, said the German chancellor was "extremely shocked, along with millions of Germans" by the news.

Schumacher is the most successful driver in the history of Formula One, boasting seven drivers' championships, 91 race wins, 155 podium finishes and 68 pole positions - to name just four of his entries in the sport's record books.

msh/jlw (AFP, dpa, SID)

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