Schumacher's condition improves

Prof Jean-Francois Payen described Mr Schumacher's condition as "stable"

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The condition of German motor racing star Michael Schumacher has improved slightly after a second operation to relieve pressure on his brain, his doctors say.

The seven-time Formula 1 champion suffered head injuries on Sunday in a skiing accident in the French Alps.

The 44-year-old remains in intensive care at a hospital in Grenoble.

Doctors say Schumacher, who is being kept in a medically induced coma, is still "not out of danger".

Fans fix a Ferrari flag in the ground in front of the CHU Nord hospital emergency unit in Grenoble (December 31, 2013) Fans and supporters gathered outside the hospital in Grenoble
International Automobile Federation (FIA) President Jean Todt and his wife Michelle Yeoh arrive to visit Michael Schumacher on December 31, 2013 FIA President Jean Todt and his wife Michelle Yeoh visited on Tuesday

An initial scan on Monday night showed "an improved situation" and indicated a window of opportunity for a second operation, doctors said.

The family took the "difficult decision" to give consent for the procedure, and surgeons operated on Schumacher for about two hours.

German press reaction

Schumacher's skiing accident dominates German media coverage, with many painting an image of a fearless daredevil. "The fight of his life," tabloid Bild says in its front-page headline, adding: "Schumi was always in search of danger."

Some commentators, such as Stefan Frommann in daily Die Welt, wonder whether Schumacher's retirement from Formula 1 in 2012 has led him to live "more dangerously".

But in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Anno Hecker says those who accuse Schumacher of having gambled with his life "fear the truth - that they don't dare to do what Schumacher does: take a risk".

Many others, he adds, see "such winners not as gamblers, but as people who managed to do what they dreamed of: to get on, to find out their true potential".

"We can't say he is out of danger but... we have gained a bit of time,'' Dr Jean-Francois Payen said on Tuesday. "The coming hours are crucial.

"All the family is very much aware that his state is still sensitive and anything can happen."

Doctors said it was impossible to give a prognosis for his condition in the coming days and months.

'Extremely shocked'

Schumacher had been skiing off-piste when he fell and hit his head.

His manager, Sabine Kehm told reporters that his helmet cracked on impact after hitting a rock.

"That does not mean that Michael was travelling at high speed. He was not too fast," Ms Kehm added.

She said that the former champion was not skiing with just his teenage son, as had been reported, but also with a group of friends at the time.

Messages of support have come from around the world.

Schumacher's manager said that his wife Corinna was "very grateful" for the messages and kind words.

Michael Schumacher (file image) Michael Schumacher won seven world championships during his career

International Automobile Federation President Jean Todt - Ferrari manager during Schumacher's career - visited the former champion in hospital on Tuesday.

Outside the facility, fans raised the Ferrari flag, telling reporters they had come to support Schumacher and his family.

Schumacher is held in a great deal of affection in the area, says the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Grenoble. He is seen as a kind and generous man who has done a lot for charity.

The former champion, who turns 45 on 3 January, retired from F1 for a second time in 2012.

He won seven world championships and secured 91 race victories during his 19-year career.

The driver won two titles with Benetton, in 1994 and 1995, before switching to Ferrari in 1996 and going on to win five straight titles from 2000.

He retired in 2006 but managed to recover and made a comeback in F1 with Mercedes in 2010.

After three seasons which yielded just one podium finish, he quit the sport at the end of last year.

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