Seven times F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher is battling for life, and just as hard as he did for each and every one of his 308 GP races he took part in. The only thing is that he didn't know that his fall while skiing at the French resort of Meribel would have been of his own making because it was an errant rock off piste on the slopes that caught him out. He was skiing with his son at that time and when he went down he hit his head against another hidden rock under the soft powdery flakes and suffered trauma to his head. Within minutes he was airlifted to a hospital in Grenoble and while he was fully conscious during the flight he seemed pretty agitated as would be the case from a very fit person even today.
Sadly, his condition worsened on Sunday evening with reports about a brain haemorrhage and he underwent operations before he was placed in a medically induced coma so as his vital organs do not suffer from post-operative trauma. The press conference early morning on Monday did hint at all of the above but the fact that Michael would have perished if he hadn't worn a proper skiing helmet has seen to it that he is yet with us albeit battling for survival.
"There is no doubt that the helmet saved Michael," said a press note released by his PR team and this is truly a significant detail for many of us here in India who live dangerously and ride two-wheelers sans the protective head lids.
Michael was always fully prepared for every unforeseen detail while racing and in fact had a career where he was on the limit always and sometimes beyond it as well. However, in the course of his long and illustrious career that not only netted him seven World Championships and 92 Grand Prix victories, he crashed only once with severe injuries, at Silverstone in 1999 when his Ferrari speared head-on into the barrier and he broke his leg.
Many have questioned the logic of Michael ever doing things of this sort after hanging up his Schubert racing helmet following retirement from F1. However, to those who knew him he wasn't the sort to stay off and sit in front of the telly twiddling his thumbs while yet remaining the quintessential family man.
Brings me then also to his tremendous zeal for living an action-packed life even after he hung up his competition helmet twice to date. I saw him pilot a full-house Ducati Desmosedici MotoGP bike with aplomb and he set times that would have placed him comfortably mid-pack on the grid at Valencia. His ability to stay in touch with such greats as Randy Mamola, Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner on two-wheels astounded many. What, however, isn't known is that living life on the edge was always a well thought out chore for the German. His exploits at rock climbing are known only to a few as also his para-gliding adventures. And while he was always fond of football and had played many a game for local Italian sides while driving for Ferrari, everyone knew his passion for skiing. At Ferrari's annual pre-season presentation every January at Madonna de Campoglio in the Italian Alps, Schumi was always hard at it, whether skiing or snow boarding. He was proficient in this form of sport and after his retirement from F1 at the end of 2012, he had taken to whatever sporting pursuit he knew and could use to give him his adrenaline fix.
This wasn't to say he was foolhardy while doing it but just that fate has its means of rearing up its ugly side and this time even though he wasn't racing anyone but himself, Michael fell and was caught out. Let's hope that just like he did the impossible so many times out on the GP circuits, he can yet turn large deficits around like not many can and get back amongst us all, enjoying life.
The motor sport world's prayers and those of millions around the world are all tuning into the almighty to help Michael come out of this strong and healthy. I can only comfort myself and millions of others by remembering Schumi's own words he said after winning the Belgian GP at Spa to wrap up his 2004 World Championship: ""I will go on as long as I have the racing instinct."
Only this time let it be his fighting instinct that is brought into play. Forza Michael!