Lyon - Michael Schumacher, the seven-time Formula One champion, is in a coma and remains in a "critical" condition after striking his head in a ski accident in the French Alps on Sunday, the hospital treating him said.
The 44-year-old German was "suffering a serious brain trauma with coma on his arrival, which required an immediate neurosurgical operation", the hospital in the southeast French city of Grenoble said in a statement.
"He remains in a critical condition." Schumacher had been skiing off-piste in the upmarket Meribel resort, where he reportedly has a property, when he fell and hit his head on a rock, mountain police who gave him first aid said.
He was airlifted to a local hospital, then to the Grenoble facility. A specialist neurosurgeon from Paris was rushed in to oversee his treatment.
The director of the Meribel resort, Christophe Gernigon-Lecomte, had said just after the accident that Schumacher had been wearing a helmet and was "conscious but a little agitated" just after the accident, suggesting he had not received life-threatening injuries.
But when Schumacher then fell into coma, doctors realised the damage was worse than initially feared.
The two mountain police officers who gave first aid said Schumacher was suffering "severe cranial trauma" when they got to him and a helicopter was brought in to evacuate him within 10 minutes.
A renowned Paris neurosurgeon, doctor Gerard Saillant, was brought to the Grenoble hospital in a police car to take charge of the famous patient.
The hospital statement was signed by the facility's neurosurgeon, the professor in charge of its anaesthesia/revival unit, and the hospital's deputy director.
Schumacher was on a private stay in Meribel, according to his spokesperson. He is to have his 45th birthday next Friday.
Schumacher, who won the last of his world titles in 2004, definitively retired in 2012 in the Brazilian Grand Prix, in which he finished seventh, after an abandoned attempt to quit six years earlier.
Since his debut in 1991, the German towered over the sport, winning more Formula One world titles and races than any other. He had a record 91 wins and is one of only two men to reach 300 Grands Prix.