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Michael Schumacher breathing by himself: Todt speaking to him in English
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Mar 2014   |  1:28 pm GMT  |  124 comments

Although Michael Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm issued a statement on Friday saying simply that “Michael is still in the wake-up phrase. The situation has not changed,” the Gazzetta dello Sport’s Pino Allievi has written that the German is now breathing by himself without a respirator and doctors believe that he is hearing the voices of his friends, among them FIA president Jean Todt and Ross Brawn. Todt is apparently speaking to his friend in English, as he did in their successful Ferrari days.

Schumacher remains in a coma nine weeks after the skiing accident which gave him a severe head injury requiring two operations to open his skull to relieve the pressure of his brain swelling.

There has been little news for three weeks, since it was announced that doctors in the hospital in Grenoble to which he was taken on December 30th, were trying to wake him.

Kehm has kept a tight lid on information and has said on several occasions, “Any medical information published which is not confirmed by the team of doctors treating Michael or his management has to be considered as not valid.”

But, while respecting this and being cautious, this intervention in Italy is worth noting.

But today, Allievi, Italy’s most influential and best connected F1 journalist has written some details of Schumacher’s treatment and condition, the main one being that he is breathing unaided.

Todt and Brawn have stayed very close to the situation and to the family. Todt in particular is in constant contact even when not at the hospital. His close friend Prof Gerard Saillant is overseeing the care of the seven times world champion and reports to him several times a day. This I know from personal experience having visited Todt for an interview for the Financial Times last week. He also told me that “You will write another book on Michael. And I will write the Foreword,” referring to the 1997 and 2007 books I wrote about Schumacher.

Allievi does not reveal the source of his information in the article, but it is sound, and has details of movements Schumacher has made; occasional twitches of an arm, a hand, a finger. His wife Corinna is by his side constantly. Brawn apparently plays recordings of pit to car radio from their times racing together, “because Michael needs to string together the threads of his life, voices and sounds.”

None of this means that he will recover. No-one knows when- or even if – Schumacher will wake up. And if he does whether he will have any quality of life at all.

But all those around him are doing everything they can and above all are continuing to hope.

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kenneth chapman

sorry to double dip here chaps but i have just read an article penned by some eminent brain/neuro specialists in which they summarised the situation and gave a general opinion.

they arrived at a conclusion that even the treating medicos may not be fully aware of exactly what might eventuate but the most interesting comment was that ‘possibly the speculation will be the prognosis’. interesting.

kenneth chapman

@adrian newey jnr. that actually begs the question as to what was it during his disastrous second stint in F1 that changed any of his previous unsportsmanlike actions?

trying to drive barrichello into the wall during the hungarian GP 2010 would be a great sporting moment to start with. check the mail-on-line for pics and story if you’ve forgotten. as keke rosberg claimed at the the time, ‘shumacher is cheap cheat’. his words not mine.

Adrian Newey Jnr

I think we should be thankful that we were able to witness Michael’s second stint in F1. If not for that, people’s view on his career would be far more devisive.

Get well soon.


So sad…

We are in no position to even discuss about Michael’s condition. Its not our task, because it’s well known what the specialists of brain damage surgeons communicate: That MS will never be the same he once was. Alive I hope, but not the same F1 driver.


I have always been a Schumacher fan but I find that his management have handled this really awkwardly. They have only responded whenever there has been a speculation which is bound to occur considering the fame Schumacher has. They should send press releases atleast once a week. It would be acceptable to everyone even if the contents of the statement are same each and every time.

I also think that some of the criticism which is coming James Allen’s way is unfair as he has been an informative yet an unbiased reporter and in my view he has never been a sensationalist. Keep up the good work JA you have been doing and it would be great if you were to return to commentate on live races on tele.

kenneth chapman

is shumacher really breathing normally and not hooked up to a respirator?


Every single day I, with trepidation, look for news on how he is doing. Some days I think I’ll find some good news and others that he has perished from his injuries. I remember Ronnie Peterson’s crash in Monza… we waited for news and then he was gone. I have no idea how this will resolve itself but you have to prepare yourself either way.


Get well Michael.


Brawn apparently plays recordings of pit to car radio from their times racing together, “because Michael needs to string together the threads of his life, voices and sounds.”

>> His response to the pit radio conversation during the Austrian GP 2002 can be a good clue to his state of recovery. Or the qualifying lap from Monaco 2006.

Maybe they should play those recordings.

Wishing speedy recovery to the German star.


Somebody needs to roll an F1 car with a nice Van engine under that hospital window and fire it up. That will get Michael awake and I don’t mean this sarcastically!


Spot on man I think he neads a v10 engine revving.


I never did like Michael in his prime racing days when he was fighting Hakkinen & Co. But during his second coming I really wanted him to win a race, because he was out to prove age was no bar. We never had the luck to see that happen.

Get well Schumi. We miss you.


Let’s hep the Gazzetto is more accurate than the DailyMail.


Very different to what the media here in Australia are reporting at the moment 🙁


This has quickly become a media circus. The media can’t help themselves with the sensational headlines based on secret sources. Of course any positive spin will be lapped up by the fanatics. People need to drop this story and respect the clearly expressed wishes of the people involved. I doubt it will happen and expect similar stories in the future. Some of the comments on this post could have been copy and pasted from any forum 20 years ago.


People need to drop this story and respect the clearly expressed wishes of the people involved.

Funny – that’s the same thing James Clapper and Keith Alexander have been saying about Glenn Greenwald’s NSA reporting.

James Allen is clearly as respected an F1 journalist as Greenwald is a civil libertarian and investigative journalist and it’s disappointing that an alleged fan of F1 would come here and make the same argument against James’s work as is being made by two of the worst abusers of the US Constitution vis-a-vis GG’s NSA exposé (based on Snowden sourcing).


Very nice article.


I was never one to see eye to eye with most of what James Allen writes but on this one (his write-up) about Michael Schumacher situation I can confirm that the Italian source he is quoting is one of the most reputable and solid around in F1, furthermore I can assure one and all on here that James Allen writings/his site is one of the very,very few around which did not fall into the low pit of speculation/s regarding this unfortunate situation the Schumacher family found themselves in.

All those around Michael are doing everything they can, but above all are continuing to hope.


The unfortunate part is that Gazzetta dello Sport’s article is no indication of any improvement, that’s the point.

As mentioned, breathing on one’s own, while an improvement physically over requiring a ventilator, is no sign either way about brain function. It’s an autonomous or automatic function of the body unregulated by the “thinking” brain. In other words, a person can be “Brain-Dead” or “Brain-Damaged” and still breath w/o assistance.

Similarly, limb movements, eye fluttering, etc., are not signs of consciousness, awareness, higher brain function.

Michael COULD be recovering, but nothing quoted in the article even hint at improvement, that his brain is functioning.

The scariest thought would be if his brain is functional, but the brain stem is not. I’d personally choose death over that or a “persistent vegetative state.”


Don’t believe anything the papers say. As a kid I read a report that British Wrestler Davey Boy Smith would never walk again in The Sun. 6 months later he was back in the ring.

Thank you for the article James, I feel the tone was perfect. As a sports journalist this isn’t a situation you can ignore.


there is a such thing as false hope and unfortunately one of the elements of hope presented in james article the twitching of body parts fingers etc could be one of those red herrings. Unfortunately twitches like that can actually be the sign of a much worse thing (an actual deterioration in condition vs improvent) so its for those sort of reasons that the family wished to keep all speculation out of this no matter how just, because the reality is journalists are not doctors. The only people qualified to release information are his doctors because they are the ones dealing with his situation 24/7

His doctors are no doubt some of the best in the world (not least because of his vast wealth, but also connections obtained as a result of that weath and concurrently over the years and the arena where that wealth was gathered f1- one of the most dangerous sports in the world afterall) and so what an ‘inferior’ doctor believes and who also may not be directly involved in his care, may not be applicable here. in short lay off the speculation, only the doctors know the true situation and will be telling the world when the time is right.


They should play the engine noise from his races. There’s nothing more that a drivers ear is tuned to than that.


This is great news if true. A very important milestone in his recovery process. I was worried as Eddie Jordan is selling Michael’s debut F1 car right now.

I understand why the family is very secretive about Michael. No one knows what kind of Michael is going to wake up. We should give them time to adapt.

Thanks for sharing James. It is a though balancing act writing about this. I appreciate that.


So very sad but to me all hope is not lost, if anyone could come back from this terrible tragedy it would be Schumacher.

God bless him.


I am pleased Michael is progessing well , people must have faith as God will make Michael strong, he may have a quieter life than usual but at least he will be happier to lead a normal happy family life, and get on with his family and lovely hobbies he does like.


Although I’ve never been a true Schumacher fan, as a F1 book lover I’ve always hoped Michael would be able to pen his final autobiography in retirement. As a F1 fan I’m still hoping he will (with Sabine’s help again).

James – Looking forward to your next book on Michael with the Todt foreword. Sounds promising already. The post 2006 chapters will be really interesting.


Another book on schumi from james? Is this Thrue or are is this whisfull tinking?


Godspeed Michael. The world awaits your return.


Whilst Schumi had his biggest slice of success on the naughties, he really was, in my opinion, at the height of his powers in the nineties. The win in Spain, 1996 was as good as it gets, totally trouncing the competion in horrendous conditions; conditions that these days, would result in a delayed start and a safety car. Then again in Hungary 1998 when and aggressive pit stop strategy meant that he had to drive properly flat out to build the gap…and he did just that. I remember watching that race thinking “this guy is FLYING”. Schumi would squeeze every last drop out of his car in the those days and mistakes were rare. Yes, he had is flaws but so did Senna. Michael is a legend of F1 and one of the top competitors of any sport, worldwide. A good human being too. Did he not donate a huge sum of money to the 2004 tsunami relief fund? Even greater than some entire countries donated I heard. Anyway, on his day, I don’t think there have been many faster than Schumi and I for one think he’s fantastic and hopray to god that he pulls though. God bless you Michael.


Oh boy, so many spelling mistakes. Sorry, iPads and fat fingers don’t work too well together.


*in the naughties, not on!!

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