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Schumi turns 45 in coma

Fans wish Michael Schumacher in front of the hospital, in Grenoble, on Friday. (Reuters)

Grenoble: Ferrari fans held a vigil for Michael Schumacher on his 45th birthday on Friday, gathering outside the French hospital where the seven-time world champion continued to fight for his life after a skiing accident.

A few dozen fans assembled outside the Grenoble hospital where Schumacher has been undergoing treatment since Sunday’s accident in the resort town of Meribel, in which his head hit a rock when he fell while skiing off piste.

“For us Ferrari fans, we are just like brothers, we are just one,” said one fan, Carlo Buschini, who raised his cap and blew kisses in the direction of Schumacher’s hospital room.

“We are here to celebrate and to celebrate his battle for life,” said Buschini, speaking in Italian.

Supporters of the Scuderia Ferrari Club wore their team’s red colours and carried a banner reading “Schumi, All our thoughts for you and your family”.

In a blog post on its website, Ferrari said Schumacher was “tackling the most important fight of his life” and sent him “double wishes” for his birthday.

Schumacher is the most successful Formula One driver of all time with a record 91 race victories in a career spanning more than two decades. The German won five successive titles with Ferrari before retiring from the team at the end of 2006.

A less successful three-year comeback with Mercedes ended last year.

Messages of support appeared on Twitter from Schumacher's former teammates.

“Happy Birthday my brother Michael! Be strong!! Be strong!! Don’t give up!! We are praying for you,” wrote Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.

Another former teammate, Rubens Barrichello, wrote — “Keep it up, man ... I know ur (sic) fighting.”

Meanwhile, Schumacher’s family hailed him as a fighter “who will not give up”.

“Following Michael’s skiing accident, we would like to thank the people from all around the world who have expressed their sympathy and sent their best wishes for his recovery,” the family said in a statement posted on Schumacher’s website.

“We all know he is a fighter and will not give up” they added.

Prosecutors have opened a probe into the accident, as is common practice in France in such cases, and are exploring the theory that the German was skiing at great speed when he fell.

There have been conflicting statements about the speed at which Schumacher was going at the time of his accident at the Meribel ski resort, where he has a property. The impact split the helmet he was wearing in two, according to a source close to the investigation.

The Ferrari F1 team, with whom Schumacher spent many years, announced it would on Friday hold a “silent gathering” in front of the Grenoble hospital where he is being treated to mark the birthday of their exdriver, who is being kept in an induced coma.

Schumacher’s fan club in his childhood town of Kerpen said any celebration of the birthday would be in bad taste.

Jean Todt, former head of the Ferrari team, visited Schumacher’s bedside on Thursday. Schumacher's wife Corinna, their two teenage children, and his father and brother were also there.

His media representative, Sabine Kehm, said Wednesday that Schumacher was stable though still critical. (Agencies)