BERLIN - Double Formula One world champion Mika Hakkinen sent his longtime rival on the racetrack Michael Schumacher wishes for a full recovery from a serious ski accident, a German newspaper reported Sunday.
The Finnish driver, like Schumacher 45 years old, wrote to the seven-time world champion at his French hospital urging him to use his competitive streak as a source of strength.
"Your accident is now just another challenge. You have to fight hard again, just like we both used to do on the track," Hakkinen wrote in a letter published in German by Bild am Sonntag.
Referring to his own serious head injury from a Formula One crash in Adelaide in 1995, Hakkinen said he survived "with the help of my family and the professional support of the doctors. I am sure you are getting the same kind of help."
He closed the letter urging Schumacher to have patience with the pace of his recovery.
"Do me a favour: just this once don't try to beat the clock. You don't have to post your best time in this race. You have to take all the time you need," he said, signing off "Take it easy, Mika".
Schumacher remains in a "critical but stable" condition in a Grenoble hospital, according to his spokeswoman following the December 29 skiing accident in which the German racing legend slammed his head against a rock.
His duels in his heyday with drivers such as Hakkinen, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, fired by an unquenchable competitive spirit, have gone down in Formula One lore.