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Former F1 driver Schumacher in critical condition

PARIS (AP) — Michael Schumacher, Formula One's greatest driver, remained hospitalized overnight after brain surgery for a severe head injury following a ski accident in the French Alps.

The Grenoble University Hospital Center said the retired racing driver arrived at the clinic in a coma on Sunday and underwent immediate surgery for a serious head trauma after hitting his on a rock. Late Sunday, the hospital said he was in critical condition, although it was not clear if he was still in a coma.

Doctors were giving an update on his condition Monday morning. There has been an outpouring of shock and support from Schumacher's fellow drivers and athletes. His wife and some of his children are at the hospital.

Schumacher fell while skiing off-piste in Meribel in the French Alps on Sunday morning, according to a statement from the resort. The area where he was skiing — between the Biche and Mauduit trails — is part of a web of trails that slice down through a vast, treeless and, in parts, very steep snowfield. Although challenging, the snowfield is not extreme skiing: The runs are broad and neatly tended, and the off-piste in between is free of trees.

Resort managers said he had been wearing a helmet and was conscious when rescuers first responded to the scene, minutes later. The Meribel resort initially said Schumacher had been taken to Grenoble for tests and authorities said his life was not in danger.

But the situation began to appear more serious when the resort said that orthopedic and trauma surgeon Gerard Saillant had traveled from Paris to the hospital in Grenoble to examine Schumacher. German news agency dpa said it was Saillant who operated on Schumacher when he broke his leg during a crash at the Silverstone race course in 1999.

In an email to The Associated Press, Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm said the champion German driver was on a private skiing trip and "fell on his head." "We ask for understanding that we cannot give running updates on his condition. He wore a helmet and was not alone," Kehm said. Schumacher's 14-year-old son Mick was skiing with his father when the accident happened, the resort said.

ESPN F1 reported that Jean Todt, his former Ferrari team boss and now president of motorsport's governing body, the FIA, was at the hospital. Ross Brawn, who worked with Schumacher at Ferrari and Mercedes F1 teams, was reportedly also at the hospital, where a gathering of media and fans was swelling.

As news of the accident spread, Formula One drivers rushed to wish Schumacher a quick recovery. Sebatian Vettel, who was once referred to as "Baby Schumi," told German news agency dpa: "I am shocked and hope that he will get better as soon as possible."

His former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa, who himself recovered from life-threatening head injuries sustained at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009, wrote on Instagram: "I am praying for you my brother!! I hope you have a quick recovery!! God bless you Michael."

British former world champion Jenson Button said posted that his "thoughts are with Michael Schumacher at this tough time. ... Michael more than anyone has the strength to pull through this." Romain Grosjean of Lotus tweeted: "All our thoughts to Schumi and his family! Hope you will recover soon #legend #Schumi."

Support also came from leading German sports personalities, ranging from the NBA to soccer. Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki said his thoughts were with Schumacher, while Lukas Podolski, who plays for Arsenal in the English Premier League, tweeted: "Bad news from Switzerland: please get well soon, Michael Schumacher. All the best for you, my friend! #getwellsoon #MichaelSchumacher."

Boris Becker, the retired tennis champion now working with Novak Djokovic, posted: "Let us all pray for @realschumacher michael for a full and speedy recovery!!!" In addition to the crash at Silverstone, Schumacher was hurt seriously in a motorcycling accident in February 2009 in Spain when he suffered neck and spine injuries. Those injuries prevented him making a shock comeback that year to stand in for the injured Massa, however he came back to the sport full time in 2010.

Schumacher is the most successful driver in Formula One history, with seven drivers' championships and 91 race wins. After initial success with the Benetton team, he moved to Ferrari and helped turn the Italian team into the sport's dominant force. After initially retiring in 2006, he made a comeback in 2010 and raced for three years with Mercedes.

Moulson reported from Berlin. AP Sports Writer Nesha Starcevic in Frankfurt contributed to this report.

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