Former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher is fighting for his life after a skiing accident, and it is not clear how his condition will progress, doctors confirm.

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Schumacher was admitted to hospital on Sunday after hitting his head on a rock after a fall while skiing off-piste in the French Alps resort of Meribel.

The medical team treating the German star gave a press conference on Monday morning to update the press on Schumacher's condition.

The surgeons confirmed the former Ferrari driver was still in a critical condition and doctors were working "hour by hour" to try and improve his health.

They confirmed the driver had been placed in an artificial coma having undergone surgery to remove a blood clot and alleviate pressure on his brain.

The hospital revealed that Schumacher was being kept in a state of hyperthermia by controlling his temperature to keep it at 34C-35C (93.2F-95F).

Prof Jean-Francois Payen told reporters that if Schumacher had not been wearing a protective helmet "he wouldn't be here now".

"We had to operate urgently to release some pressure in his head," the anaesthetist said.

"He is fighting for his life."

Getting oxygen to the brain

A spokesman said:"Currently our objective is to reduce as much as possible any kind of external stimuli and to try to ensure he gets oxygen to his brain," a spokesman said.

"He arrived with lesions that were quite important so we think that in fact the shock seems to have taken place at high speed.

"Hour by hour we are going to try to gain time.

Our objective is to reduce as much as possible any kind of external stimuli and to try to ensure he gets oxygen to his brain. Hospital spokesman on Michael Schumacher's condition

"But the treatment we are going to introduce, we know what we're hoping for but currently we are not able to give you any more information.

"We're not able to tell you what's going to happen as far as the future is concerned because it's too early to talk about it."

Mercedes F1, the last race team Schumacher drove for, tweeted that the star has "amazing fighting spirit".

Family at his bedside

Schumacher's family and a team of doctors remain by the Formula One champion’s bedside.

"The family is not doing very well obviously. They are shocked," said his manager Sabine Kehm, who added that the family still appreciated the outpouring of support.

As news of the accident spread, Formula One drivers and fans rushed to wish Schumacher a quick recovery.

"Like millions of Germans, the chancellor and members of the government were extremely dismayed when they heard about Michael Schumacher's serious skiing accident," German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin.

Sebastian Vettel, for whom Schumacher was a boyhood idol, told German news agency DPA: "I am shocked and hope that he will get better as soon as possible."

Ferrari, which Schumacher raced for, expressed its concern in a statement. "Everyone at Ferrari has been in a state of anxiety since hearing about Michael Schumacher's accident," it said, adding that company president, Luca di Montezemolo, and race team leader, Stefano Domenicali, were in contact with the family.

Schumacher retired from Formula One for the final time in 2012 after a three-season comeback with Mercedes.

The 44-year-old, who also raced for Jordan, Benetton and Ferrari, won the last of his world titles in 2004.

He won two with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 before moving to Ferrari and winning five in a row from 2000. The German has 91 career wins.

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