Michael Schumacher’s world changed for ever on December 29, 2013.
The seven-time Formula One world champion was skiing at the Meribel resort in the French Alps when, having helped a fallen family friend according to his manager Sabine Kehm, he fell himself and hit his head against a rock.
The 44-year-old German, who had retired from F1 for the final time in 2012 after a three-season comeback with Mercedes, was airlifted first to hospital in nearby Moutiers and then on to Grenoble, and the early signs were promising.
Gerningon Christophe-Lecomte, the director of the Meribel resort, was quoted by Radio Monte Carlo Sport as saying he was “shaken but conscious” after the accident.
“It may be a head injury but it is not very serious,” Lecomte said on mcsport.bfmtv.com. Sadly, those words were to be some way from the truth.
Within hours Schumacher’s condition was described as “critical” and University Hospital of Grenoble spokesman Jean-Marc Grenier, said the 91-time grand prix winner was in a medically-induced coma.
The fight for survival, doctors said, was being taken “hour by hour” and two operations were carried out to ease the pressure on Schumacher’s brain.
Fans and well-wishers marked Schumacher’s 45th birthday on January 3, 2014 with Ferrari organising a ‘silent march’ in support of their former driver outside the Grenoble hospital and the Schumacher family praised the “great support”.
At the start of April Schumacher “shows moments of consciousness and awakening” but it was not until June 16 - 170 days after the accident - that he came out of coma and was transferred to the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland.
On September 9 he returned to his home on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland to continue his rehabilitation.
Schumacher is still involved in the greatest race of his life.