A wave of relief spread through the Bahrain paddock on Friday, as news broke that F1 legend Michael Schumacher has shown “moments of consciousness” this week after months in a coma.
The brief statement made by the great German’s manager Sabine Kehm, however, refused to divulge the “details” of the development out of respect for the family and to protect the medical team’s “calmness”.
Respected doctors, however, were quick to add some of their insights to the news.
Dr Alain Simon, the medical consultant for the French sports daily L’Equipe, says the latest Schumacher statement is “difficult to interpret”.
“It could mean he opens and closes his eyes when he is asked,” he said.
“People who are in this phase are not speaking and it could be months like this,” Simon explained, “but perhaps these moments are a sign of hope.”
Simon said the development in Schumacher’s condition could actually be very timely.
“In a head trauma with loss of consciousness,” he said, “beyond three months is a long-term coma with consequences. With less than three months there may be no consequences.”
Alain Ducardonnet, the medical consultant for France’s BFMTV, agrees that the statement issued by the Schumacher camp on Friday is “good news”.
“Previously there had been nothing in particular,” he said. “It was attempted to wake him but obviously he did not.
“But ‘moments of consciousness and awakening’ can mean everything and it can mean nothing. These are generic words.
“Perhaps he is responding to simple commands: open your eyes, move your hand, perhaps the skin was clamped to see if he feels pain.
“These are the first things we do when we assess consciousness,” Dr Ducardonnet added.
Yet another doctor, the French neurosurgeon Philippe Decq, warned: “We must be extremely cautious.
“Signs of awakening is probably the observation of eye movements, followed by eye-contact. This is encouraging and I am happy to hear that but we must be extremely careful.
“The lesions are obviously extremely serious. Anything can happen,” Dr Decq warned. “You are never unscathed after a trauma of this severity.”
Schumacher’s former manager Willi Weber, however, spoke for the world of F1 when he said on Friday: “Thank god. For me, that’s the best news of the year.”
Bild newspaper reported that Schumacher has been moved within the Grenoble hospital to an intensive care area for patients requiring less constant supervision.