Michael Schumacher has returned a favour to the doctor who helped heal the leg broken in his 1999 British Grand Prix accident by becoming a patron of a charity close to the medic's heart.

Professor Gerard Saillant, who Michael knows as the man who removed the pin from his injured leg a year after his accident at Silverstone, is the president of the ICM institute which conducts research into brain and spinal chord disease. Ferrari team boss Jean Todt is also on the executive committee of the organisation.

"Cerebral and nervous system lesions after an illness or an accident are one of the most serious health problems," Schumacher explained of his new cause, "I hope I can contribute to making more people aware of these problems.

"The ICM institute in Paris does not just treat patients, but also operates as a research centre and information exchange hub on illness and its prevention. Given the number of people suffering with this type of condition, it would be great if their suffering could be alleviated or in the future, actually cured."