In Depth

F1: Bianchi out of coma, but Schumacher wheelchair-bound

News of stricken drivers' conditions emerges ahead of season finale in Abu Dhabi this weekend

As the F1 season approaches a climax in Abu Dhabi this weekend, news of two of its stricken stars has emerged, with updates on the condition of hospitalised driver Jules Bianchi and recovering F1 legend Michael Schumacher.

Jules Bianchi out of a coma

The 25-year-old Marussia driver who suffered serious head injuries when he collided with a recovery vehicle at the Japaense Grand Prix in October is no longer in an artificial coma and is breathing unaided, his parents have revealed.

He has also left hospital in Japan and is now being cared for in Nice. But, as the BBC notes, "his condition is still 'critical' and he remains unconscious".

In a statement the Frenchman's parents said: "Following a challenging period of neurological intensive care, we are able to announce Jules has made an important step. His treatment now enters a new phase concerned with the improvement of his brain function.

"Jules's neurological condition remains stable. Although the situation continues to be serious, and may remain so it was decided that Jules was sufficiently stable to be repatriated to his native France."

They thanked medical teams who cared for Bianchi after the crash, which left him with a diffuse axonal injury – a series of lesions affecting his brain tissue.

Michael Schumacher in wheelchair

There was also news of seven-time world champion Schumacher, who was in a coma for several months after a skiing accident in the French Alps in December. He was initially treated in Grenoble, before being transferred to a hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland. In September he returned to his home near Lake Geneva, which has reportedly been redeveloped to cater for his convalescence.

The update on his condition comes from a friend of the family, former racing driver Philippe Streiff, who himself was left in a wheelchair after a crash in 1989.

Strieff said, after visiting Schumacher: "He is getting better but everything is relative. It's very difficult. He can't speak. Like me, he is in a wheelchair paralysed. He has memory problems and speech problems.

"The fact that he's in his family will perhaps enable him to recover more quickly, but it's difficult. It appears that he communicates with his eyes, with his wife and press officer." 

Official news on Schumacher's condition has been "scant", says the Daily Telegraph. But it adds: "With an accumulated wealth estimated to be well over half-a-billion pounds, Schumacher's family is well placed to provide the limitless care that will be needed in the coming years. This will include physiotherapists, to massage his atrophying joints, doctors, nutritionists, nurses and neurological experts."

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