Ferrari fans are to stage a vigil to mark Michael Schumacher's 45th birthday, gathering outside the hospital where the German remains in an induced coma.

The seven-time F1 world champion should have been celebrating today (3 January), but instead remains under constant observation as he fights to recover from the effects of a crash while skiing with his family on Sunday.

Schumacher remains in a 'stable but critical' condition according to his manager but, despite showing unexpected signs of improvement following a second operation on New Year's Eve, is still 'not out of danger'. Reports claim that the German's helmet, which undoubtedly saved his life, was cracked in the impact with rocks that littered the off-piste route he had chosen to take on his return to the resort of Meribel.

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Ferrari, with whom Schumacher won five of his F1 world titles, confirmed that buses would be transporting fans from France and Italy to the hospital in Grenoble in order to show their support for the stricken champion.

Ferrari spokesman Renato Bisignani told the BBC that those taking part had been encouraged to dress in red and bring flags, as 'a sign of closeness to Michael Schumacher, done in a very respectful way', while the Scuderia offered an additional message to the German via its official website.

"This is a special day for Ferrari and all its fans, as it is Michael Schumacher's birthday," the message read, "At the moment, he is tackling the most important fight of his life and therefore we want to send him very special wishes.

"There have so many wonderful moments we have spent together and we have chosen 72. It's not a random number, as it represents the number of wins Michael achieved with the Scuderia from 1996 to 2006: 72 grands prix that gave us and the millions of Prancing Horse fans from all over the world so much pleasure. These were unforgettable moments which, along with his passion, commitment and dedication makes Michael part of the great Ferrari family for ever.

"Everyone at Ferrari, from president Luca di Montezemolo and team principal Stefano Domenicali, who are in touch all the time with Michael's family and those closest to him, are continuously watching how his situation evolves. Obviously, today there are double the reasons to wish him all the best.

"Forza Michael!"

Schumacher's family, who remain at the hospital with the German, have already issued their own statement thanking the fans for their support.

"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 message, slightly altered from its original version, noted, "They are giving us great support. We all know he is a fighter and will not give up. Thank you."

Doctors have said that further updates on Schumacher's condition are only likely if there is any significant change, while his manager has again asked for his privacy to be respected after one journalist posed as a priest in an effort to get closer to the German in hospital.

"Security got him before he came close," Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm revealed, "I don't want to go into details of what exactly we are doing security-wise. However I can assure you there is security because we do have constant attempts from media and people to come close."