Michael Schumacher‘s life and career will be documented in ‘Schumacher’, to be streamed on Netflix from September 15. The film will follow the German Formula 1 racing legends early years to the very top of his sport, where he dominated with seven world championship titles and a total of 91 victories before a horrific accident changed his life forever. Read on for what happened, what the family has said what friends have said, and what outsiders have said to piece together a possible picture of his condition now.
On December 29, 2013, Schumacher was skiing with his son, then 14, Mich, in the Meribel resort of the French Alps.
While crossing a reportedly unsecured off-piste area between Piste Chamois and Piste Mauduit, he fell and hit his head on a rock.
He was wearing a helmet – doctors said he’d have died without one – but it cracked in the impact, leaving the racer with a serious head injury.
He was airlifted to Grenoble Hospital in France for emergency treatment.
He was put into a medically induced coma, and underwent two operations to remove blood and pressure from his brain.
Treatment for what doctors called a “traumatic brain injury” continued for some time, with the family keeping news scarce.
About six months after the incident, he is believed to have started coming out of the coma.
His family issued a statement that they still “strongly believe” in his recovery, but conceded he was in the “wake-up phase” that can take “a long time”.
After regaining conciousness, he was moved to the University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, for rehabilitation.
And in September 2014, Schumacher was brought back to his home in Lake Geneva for further rehabilitation, where he has been ever since.
With the family keeping news of his health private, the full details of his condition have never been known to the public – but there have been clues and speculations.
What has the family said?
Schumacher’s wife, Corinna, is believed to lead the family in their decisions about the handling of her husband’s health and what is made public.
In 2019, she issued a rare statement to his fans to coincide with his 50th birthday.
The statement said: “We are very happy to celebrate Michael’s 50th birthday tomorrow together with you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts that we can do this together.”
It went on: “We want to remember and celebrate his victories, his records and his jubilation.
“You can be sure that he is in the very best of hands and that we are doing everything humanly possible to help him.
“Please understand if we are following Michael’s wishes and keeping such a sensitive subject as health, as it has always been, in privacy.
“At the same time we say thank you very much for your friendship and wish you a healthy and happy year 2019.”
Then, in 2019, another friend – Jean Todt, the Formula One star’s former manager at Ferrari – gave fans another update.
Mr Todt, one of the driver’s closest confidantes, said Schumacher was making “good progress” and the pair watched F1 races together on television.
He said: “I’m always careful with such statements, but it’s true.
“I saw the race together with Michael Schumacher at his home in Switzerland.”
He added: “Michael is in the best hands and is well looked after in his house. He does not give up and keeps fighting.”
However, he said he was “saddened” by the fact that his friend struggled to communicate.
Mr Todt said: “His family is fighting just as much and of course our friendship cannot be the same as it once was just because there’s no longer the same communication as before.”
What have outsiders said?
The scarcity of official information on the racing legend has led to plenty of speculation, some of which isn’t worth noting.
However, last year, the renowned neurosurgeon Professor Erich Riederer commented on Schumacher’s condition as an outsider in a documentary on the French television station TMC.
In an interview, he said: “I think he’s in a vegetative state, which means he’s awake but not responding.
“He is breathing, his heart is beating, he can probably sit up and take baby steps with help, but no more.
“I think that’s the maximum for him. Is there any chance of seeing him like he was before his accident? I really don’t think so.”
It is uncertain if Riederer has visited Schumacher himself or what information he is basing his professional opinion on.
Schumacher will be available to stream on Netflix from September 15.