GRENOBLE, France - Formula One legend Michael Schumacher was Tuesday still in coma and fighting for his life with his family at his bedside after a skiing accident in the French Alps.
Doctors have warned it is touch-and-go for the German, the greatest champion in the history of Formula One, as they wait for the full extent of his injuries to become clear after he fell and slammed his head on a rock while skiing off-piste on Sunday.
Schumacher's wife Corinne and children Gina Maria and Mick were by his side and a small crowd held a night vigil outside the hospital in the southeastern city of Grenoble, an AFP reporter said.
A source close to the investigation into the off-piste accident at the posh ski resort of Meribel told AFP that Schumacher's helmet was smashed "in two" by the impact.
The German newspaper Bild also quoted a rescuer as saying the split helmet was "full of blood".
Schumacher's family in a statement expressed their thanks to the doctors who they said were doing "everything possible to help Michael" and to well-wishers around the world.
The family also asked the press to "respect their privacy," in the statement put out by Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm.
News of the accident stunned the world and racing stars joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel and legions of fans in expressing their hopes for his recovery.
The hospital said it would put out a medical bulletin Tuesday. Neurosurgeon Stephan Chabardes, who operated on Schumacher, had earlier said medical updates would be provided as and when necessary.
Doctors said a second operation was on the cards for Schumacher, who is due to turn 45 on January 3, and stressed it was too early to say if he would pull through.
"It usually takes 48 hours, or even longer, to be able to formulate an opinion" on injuries of this severity, said neurologist Jean-Luc Truelle.
The coma reduces the patient's temperature to around 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) to reduce swelling. By being unconscious, the brain is also switched off to sounds, light and other triggers that cause the organ to use up oxygen as it processes the stimuli.