Berlin - One of the greatest sportsmen in history continues his fight for life. The fate of motor racing legend Michael Schumacher has gripped world for almost a year following his tragic skiing accident.
Just as in previous years, he wanted to spend a few days skiing to celebrate the new year and his birthday with friends. But a fall at the Meribel ski resort changed the life of Michael Schumacher and his loved ones in the most dramatic fashion.
Even a year after the tragic accident on December 29, 2013, it remains unclear whether Schumacher will ever recover enough to lead any semblance of a normal life.
"It is not possible to give any kind of reliable prognosis," Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm said recently. "It simply isn't possible in this situation."
Schumacher hit his head on a rock while skiing and spent the next days in a critical condition in a Grenoble hospital, followed by months in an induced coma.
The father of two's helmet was destroyed as a result of the crash and the seriousness of Schumacher's condition only became apparent the following day when he was brought to the University Clinic Hospital in Grenoble.
The expressions on the faces of the doctors treating Schumacher spoke volumes. His condition was described as "extremely critical" as the world learned that the seven-time world champion had sustained multiple brain injuries.
Schumacher's fight for life unleashed deep emotions worldwide with regular television programming regularly interrupted to give updates on his condition.
The media circus that developed around Schumacher's fight for life led wife Corinna to issue a written statement a week later, calling for the driver's medical team and family to be left in peace so they could deal with the situation.
Schumacher was still fighting for his life on January 3, 2014, when he celebrated his 45th birthday, with the tragedy casting a shadow over the start of tests for the new F1 season.
"We are praying, wishing and hoping that a miracle takes place so that he wakes up the same person he once was," said compatriot and friend Sebastian Vettel at the end of January.
Over 10 months later, on the 20th anniversary of Schumacher claiming his first F1 title, Vettel was on hand to present the Millennium-BAMBI award to Schumacher's wife in recognition of the driver's excellent services and for inspiring his countrymen.
"It's my friendship with him that makes me so happy and proud, but also so sad," said Vettel. "I had so wished that we would be able to give you this award personally."
Schumacher's legion of fans are still writing letters as well as sending get well wishes on Twitter and Facebook. The sport of Formula 1 is also still thinking of the man who enjoyed 91 race wins in a stellar career.
When Lewis Hamilton secured this year's drivers' championship in Abu Dhabi, Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche remembered the German legend when looking back on a memorable season for his team.
"We should not forget the contribution Michael made to this success," he said.
Schumacher drove for Mercedes for three years from 2010 to 2013, offering his vast experience just as he done previously done for the Ferrari research team.
In a uniquely successful career, Schumacher secured 68 pole positions on his way to seven world championship crowns. He suffered his worst racing accident in 1999, when he broke his leg at Silverstone. Schumacher also suffered neck injuries in a motorcycle accident in Cartagena 10 years later, forcing him to call off a comeback with Ferrari as a replacement driver for the injured Felipe Massa.
It remains unclear whether Schumacher will ever recover significantly enough to live a relatively normal life, never mind get behind the wheel of a racing car. The 45-year-old spent months in an induced coma until it was announced on June 16 that he had regained consciousness.
Schumacher has continued his rehabilitation at home since September and his family have made clear from the beginning that no details will be revealed about his condition.
"However, he has a long and difficult road in front of him," manager Kehm revealed at the time.
She also confirmed recently that virtually all of Schumacher's sponsors have remained loyal to the driver, even a year after his tragic accident.
"Our concept was always to work together personally on a partnership and friendship level," Kehm told dpa. "This togetherness is showing itself now."