Mika Hakkinen has urged former rival Michael Schumacher to keep fighting as the German remains in hospital following his skiing accident.
The latest update from the German's management team on Saturday confirmed that the seven-time champion was still in a critical condition, with the possibility that a further update could be made today by the hospital in Grenoble where the 45-year-old continues to be treated.
Hakkinen has now joined the ever-growing list of people to express their concern for the seven-time champion having written a letter to his former rival on track, which has been published by the German publication Bild
“Your accident is now just another challenge,” the former McLaren
driver wrote. “You have to fight back hard - just as we fought on the track.
“As you know, I myself had a bad head injury in the past. But I survived with the help of my family and friends and the professional support of the doctors. I'm sure you will get this help as well.
“Do not try to beat the clock as you don't have to set a personal best time in this race, you have to take all of the time that you need.”
Hakkinen's own injury – sustained in a high-speed accident during practice for the 1995 Australian Grand Prix
in Adelaide – saw him spend ten days in a coma before he was able to start on the road to recovery; going on to return to action to win the title in both 1998 and 1999.
With his wife at the time Erja having kept a vigil at his bedside, Hakkinen said he could understand what Schumacher's wife Corinna and his family would be going through but urged them to stay strong.
“It is the worst thing that can happen to you in life,” he recalled. “You realise how fragile life is. The important thing is to be able to hold the hand of the other person and to trust the words of the doctors. You sit there and hope that everything turns out well, but you do not know what will happen the next morning. You cannot even do anything - and that's the horror.
“At the beginning [with my accident], the shock [for the family] was huge. The newspapers were full of pictures, as I was pulled from the wreckage bleeding. My family didn't have the information and they could see me being taken from the car but didn't know how serious my injuries were.
“When I woke up from the coma, I could see the pain they had to go through. Michael is a fighter, and he will never give up until he has won this battle.”