Schumacher was travelling at speed of 'very good skier'

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Media caption,
Investigator Stephane Bozon said he was unable to estimate Schumacher's speed

Footage from Michael Schumacher's helmet camera shows him going at the speed of "a very good skier" when he hit a rock and fell, investigators say.

Investigators probing the former F1 driver's accident said he was eight metres off-piste when he crashed.

Prosecutor Patrick Quincy said he could not as yet estimate the 45-year-old's speed but said it was "not an important element of the investigation".

Schumacher suffered a severe head injury in the 29 December accident.

He is currently in a medically induced coma at a clinic in Grenoble where doctors describe his condition as critical but stable.

Fans gathered outside the hospital on 3 January to mark the racing legend's 45th birthday.

'Image by image'

Speaking at a news conference in the French city of Albertville, the investigating team said they had so far attended the scene of the accident in the resort of Meribel, spoken to witnesses and the medical team.

They have also reconstructed events leading up to the crash, examined the helmet and skis and viewed footage filmed on a camera attached to his helmet, they said.

Mr Quincy, who is heading the investigation team, refused to be drawn on Schumacher's speed at the time of the accident saying they needed to go through the two-minutes of footage "image by image".

But another investigator, Lt Col Benoit Vinneman said the video appeared to show "completely normal behaviour by a good skier on this terrain".

Schumacher had deliberately chosen to go off piste, an area between a red and blue piste that was clearly signposted, the investigators said.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Michael Schumacher deliberately chose to ski off-piste, investigators say

He hit a rock that was 8m (26ft) from the piste, and landed 9m (30ft) away from the piste, they outlined.

"[Mr Schumacher] is evidently an extremely good skier, but one of his skis hit a rock that was sticking out... it caused him to fall and he hit his head on the rock," Mr Quincy said.

Stephane Bozon, one of the local policemen involved in the investigation, said the skis were in "perfect condition" and had not been the cause of the accident.

Mr Quincy stressed their investigation into Schumacher's accident was no different to that given to other skiing similar skiing accidents. He said they had investigated 50 such cases.

Schumacher's family have been by his bedside since the accident, and have appealed for privacy in recent days, asking journalists to leave the clinic where he is being treated.

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

He 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.