F1 family praying for Michael Schumacher
Drivers past and present offer support to former champion’s family after skiing accident
Former F1 champion Niki Lauda in schock at news of Michael Schumacher injury. Photograph: Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images
The former Formula One world champion Niki Lauda has expressed “disbelief “ that Michael Schumacher is lying critically ill and in an induced coma in Grenoble after hitting his head on a rock in a skiing accident at the weekend.
Like Schumacher, Lauda is a former Ferrari great who won two of his three titles while representing the Scuderia. He said: “I find it completely shocking and unexplainable why this great driver, who won seven championships in over 300 races and stayed alive, could have something like this happen to him. It’s tragic.
“He was the greatest driver of them all, with seven titles. Only the great Juan Manuel Fangio comes close to him, with five. He was the perfect racer, with speed, instinct and a great technical understanding.”
Lauda, who was involved in a near fatal crash as an F1 driver and is now non-executive chairman at Mercedes, added: “Michael is a very good skier and what happened to him could have happened to anyone. He’s a perfect man, a solid man, an outstanding guy. He would not take unnecessary risks. He’s not stupid. I certainly would not expect him to do something crazy in front of his own son.”
Early in his career the skydiving, motorcycling, horse-riding and skiing Schumacher was described by Fangio as “the greatest of adventurers”. Fangio said in the 1990s: “We racing drivers are adventurers. The more difficult something is, the greater the attraction that comes from it. Michael Schumacher is the greatest of the adventurers.”
In 2009 the German suffered neck and spinal injuries in a serious motorcycling accident. And he is not the first F1 driver to find life more dangerous away from the track. Didier Pironi was killed in a power boating accident, Graham Hill died when the private plane he was piloting crashed and the rally champion Colin McRae was fatally wounded in a helicopter crash.
In addition Mark Webber broke his leg on a mountain bike in Tasmania and Robert Kubica’s highly promising F1 career ended when he crashed while taking part in a minor rally. Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, was injured in a snowmobile accident.
Lauda amitted he was very worried about Schumacher’s condition. “The news is not encouraging at all. That is my worry and that is why I’m praying for him.” Indeed the F1 world appears to be conducting a vigil at the bedside of the German, who is in a “critical situation” according to the chief anaesthetist Jean-François Payen.
One of his greatest rivals in the 1990s, Damon Hill, said: “We are all praying for Michael’s speedy and full recovery and our thoughts are with Corinna [Schumacher’s wife] and the children.”