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Schumacher remains in 'waking-up phase,' as F1 pays tribute in Melbourne

Michael Schumacher's manager has said that the former F1 star is yet to wake from a coma following his skiing accident. Schumacher's previous team Mercedes dedicated their win at the Australian Grand Prix to him.

Manager Sabine Kehm said on Sunday that Michael Schumacher's condition was largely unchanged, telling the German television channel RTL that the 45-year-old had not woken from his coma.

"Michael remains in the waking-up phase, in other words: he has not yet woken up," Kehm told RTL during their coverage of the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. "We are of course waiting for that moment, but we have learned and we also accept that this could take a long time. We've come to terms with this."

Frankreich Grenoble Sabine Kehm Pressesprecherin Michael Schumacher 01.01.2014

Kehm thanked fans around the world for their support

In a recent statement, Kehm had said that

Schumacher was exhibiting small signs of improvement

. She told RTL on Sunday that she still could not elaborate on these signs, describing them as "really the most private of family matters."

Kehm, Schumacher's manager for more than a decade and closely connected to the driver for longer still, praised the resolve of his family, saying they were staying strong and visiting the hospital in Grenoble every day.

Melbourne grid shows support

Many current drivers on the Formula One grid carried messages of support for the stricken seven-time world champion at the season's first race in Melbourne on Sunday. The CEO of Mercedes' parent company Daimler, Dieter Zetsche, said the Mercedes F1 team dedicated

Nico Rosberg's victory

to their former driver.

"He is, and will remain, a part of the Mercedes family - and our thoughts are with him at this moment," Zetsche said after Mercedes' dominant showing in the first race of the season. "We all really hope that his condition improves quickly and that he will soon be able to be with us and the Formula 1 team."

Rosberg and Schumacher were teammates at Mercedes for three seasons from 2010 to 2012. Schumacher's former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa told the German newspaper Bild that he was hoping to visit Schumacher again as soon as possible.

"Michael and I are very close friends, we have been through a lot together," Massa said, adding that his friend's plight helped add perspective to the opening race of the season. "It's not really important how fast your car is, we must not forget the important things in life. A good friend of mine is fighting for his life, far away from us. We must pray each day for Michael to wake up."

Defending champion Sebastian Vettel, who retired early in Sunday's race with engine problems, carried an "MS" logo on the visor of his helmet for the race at Albert Park. Many of the other competitors displayed messages of support for Schumacher somewhere on their helmets or cars.

Schumacher fell and hit his head on a rock while skiing at the French Alpine resort of Meribel on December 29. He sustained severe head injuries despite wearing a protective helmet, which doctors said had likely saved his life. Schumacher was airlifted to hospital in Grenoble, where he was placed in an artifical coma and underwent emergency surgery.

Doctors began reducing his sedation

, in the hope that he would wake up, in late January.

msh/lw (dpa, SID)

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