PARIS — Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher was in critical condition after undergoing brain surgery following a skiing accident in the French Alps on Sunday, doctors said.
The Grenoble University Hospital Center said the retired driver arrived at the clinic in a coma and underwent immediate surgery for a serious head trauma.
It was not clear whether the 44-year-old German was still in a coma but the hospital statement, which was signed by a neurosurgeon, an anesthesiologist and Marc Penaud, the hospital’s deputy director, said “he remains in a critical condition.”
The retired driver fell while skiing off-piste in Meribel earlier Sunday and hit his head on a rock, according to a statement from the resort. Resort managers said he had been wearing a helmet and was conscious when rescuers first responded to the scene.
Earlier in the day, the Meribel resort said Schumacher had been taken to Grenoble for tests and authorities said his life was not in danger.
But the situation began to look more serious when the resort said that orthopedic and trauma surgeon Gerard Saillant had traveled from Paris to the hospital to examine Schumacher. German news agency dpa said it was Saillant who operated on Schumacher when he broke his leg during a crash at the Silverstone race course in 1999.
In an email to The Associated Press, Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm said the retired driver was on a private skiing trip and “fell on his head.”
“We ask for understanding that we cannot give running updates on his condition. He wore a helmet and was not alone,” Kehm said. Schumacher’s 14-year-old son was skiing with his father when the accident happened, the resort said.
In addition to the crash at Silverstone, Schumacher was hurt seriously in a motorcycling accident in February 2009 in Spain when he suffered neck and spine injuries. He recovered sufficiently from those injuries to make a comeback in F1.
Schumacher retired in 2006 after winning five straight titles with Ferrari following two earlier ones with Benetton. He came back to the sport in 2010 and drove for three seasons for Mercedes without much success before retiring again last year.