Schumacher showing signs of consciousness and awakening

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Michael Schumacher is having “moments of consciousness and awakening” according to spokesperson Sabine Kehm, as doctors continue to try and wake him from his medically-induced coma.

The seven time Formula 1 world champion suffered a severe head injury in a skiing accident at the end of last year, and has been in hospital at Grenoble ever since under close scrutiny from a team of doctors and neurosurgeons.

Following many conflicting reports from unofficial sources, Schumacher’s management has now released the following statement:

“Michael is making progress. He shows moments of consciousness and awakening. We are at his side during his long and difficult fight, together with the team at the hospital in Grenoble, and we keep remaining confident.

“We would like to thank you all for the continuing sympathies. At the same time we again ask for understanding that we do not intend to disclose details. This is necessary to protect the privacy of Michael and his family, and to enable the medical team to work in full calmness.”

As with any head injury, it is incredibly difficult to make assumptions or cast a judgement without being directly involved with the case, meaning that official statements such as the one issued today are very valuable.

In a touching gesture, the Bahrain International Circuit has named its first corner after Schumacher ahead of this weekend’s grand prix. This encouraging news from Grenoble is only set to lift spirits in the paddock as the F1 community continues to lend its support to Schumacher and his family.

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

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Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.