MELBOURNE: Felipe Massa will display a message of support for Michael Schumacher at Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, the first Formula One race since a skiing accident left the German legend fighting for his life.
The Brazilian driver, a former teammate of Schumacher’s with Ferrari, has said he will drive with the initials “MS” emblazoned on his helmet for the season opener in Melbourne.
Seven-time world champion Schumacher remains in a medically induced coma since hitting his head on a rock while skiing at the French resort of Meribel on December 29.
The 45-year-old is showing “small, encouraging signs” of recovery, his family said on Wednesday, while acknowledging that he faces a long battle ahead.
Yesterday Massa, who was a teammate of Schumacher’s during the German’s glory years at Ferrari in the early noughties, paid an emotional tribute to his friend on Twitter.
“Michael is always with me !! Be very strong Brother !! Love !! #19,” he tweeted, signing off with his car number. “I always think about him every day. I’m praying for him every day,” Massa told an official media conference Thursday.
“So I hope everything can go back and he’ll be okay.
“For sure it was a shame to see what has happened, but I keep thinking about him.
“He’s on my helmet and I’ll keep praying and hope that things can be okay for him and he’s coming back.”
Schumacher’s precarious condition has cast a dark cloud over the build up to the new F1 season with drivers and officials alike praying for the German’s successful recovery.
President of the Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA) Jean Todt, who was the principal of Ferrari during Schumacher’s time with the Italian team, said he has visiting his former charge almost weekly.
“I am monitoring the situation every day,” Todt told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“I can tell you that we still have big hopes for Michael.
“He is a great guy, a great champion, a great human being, and I only hope that he can be back with us.” AFP