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Michael Schumacher at 55: his 10-year secret rehabilitation, his family's silence pact, and grown children

Michael Schumacher was the highest-paid athlete in the world as a Formula1 driver before his accident in December 2013

Michael Schumacher of Germany and Ferrari smiles after the Vodafone Race on Piazza Duomo in Milan during the preview to the Italian F1 Grand Prix on September 1, 2005 in Monza, Italy© Getty
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
January 3, 2024
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The world of racing is celebrating Michael Schumacher’s 55th birthday! The Formula1 legend is one of the biggest stars of the racing world and is the joint-record holder of seven World Drivers' Championship titles. Michael’s life was changed forever in 2013, just one year after retiring from racing, when he sustained a devastating head injury while skiing in Meribel in the French Alps. Since then, he has retreated entirely from public life. Here’s what we know about the star… 

Michael Schumacher in 2004© Alexander Hassenstein

Formula 1 career and retirement

Michael had an incredibly successful career. In 2012, the time of his retirement, he held records in most wins, pole positions and podium positions as well as the number of total fastest laps. In 1999 and 2000, he was listed by Forbes as the highest-paid athlete in the world. 

After a brief return to the sport after retirement in 2010 - 2012, Michael confirmed that he was retiring for good. He told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper: "For me, there is nothing better than being at home. For me this means freedom, and I want to enjoy that again soon." 

He added: "The plan is that there is no plan. I experienced Formula One from a different perspective… Now I'm more open and relaxed. I am going with my head held high… There were times in the past few months in which I didn't want to deal with Formula One or prepare for the next Grand Prix." 

Michael and Corinna married in August 1995© Getty

Michael’s skiing accident and rehabilitation

In December 2013, Michael was skiing in the French Alps with his son Mick, who was 14 at the time, when the pair went off-piste and Michael fell and hit his head. Despite wearing a helmet, Michael sustained a serious head injury and was placed in a medically induced coma. He left the hospital six months after the accident in June 2014, and continued his rehabilitation from his home. 

While there have been various reports concerning Michael’s condition following the accident, his family have always kept details of his recovery deeply private. A lawsuit was made against German magazine Bunte in 2016 after an article claimed that the world champion was walking again after his accident, with the lawyer confirming that Michael "cannot walk" almost three years following his accident. 

German Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher skis in the winter resort of Madonna di Campiglio, in the Dolomites area, Northern Italy, 11 January 2005© STR

Lawsuits about Michael's recovery

At the time, his agent, Sabine Kehm, released a statement: "Unfortunately we are forced by a recent press report to clarify that the assertion that Michael could move again is not true. 

Such speculation is irresponsible because given the seriousness of his injuries, his privacy is very important. Unfortunately, they also give false hopes to many involved people."

Michael Schumacher© getty

What Michael’s family have said about his recovery 

Michael’s family have remained incredibly private about his progress, and have only very occasionally spoken about him. One such occasion was for the Netflix documentary Being Michael Schumacher, explaining: "We are trying to carry on as a family, the way Michael liked it and still does. We live together at home. We do therapy. We do everything we can to make Michael better and to make sure he’s comfortable.

"We are getting on with our lives, 'private is private' as he always said. It’s very important to me that he can continue to enjoy his private life as much as possible. Michael always protected us, now we are protecting Michael."

Mick Schumacher is a Reserve Driver of Mercedes© Getty

Secrecy surrounding Michael's care

His son Mick also spoke about his dad in the documentary Being Michael Schumacher, saying: "I think dad and me, we would understand each other now in a different way, simply because we speak a similar language, the language of motorsport... I would give up everything just for that."

Michael’s former teammate, Luca Badoer, also explained Corinna’s decision to The Sun, saying: "Only a few people are allowed to visit. Corinna decides who is allowed to see him. The family wants to maintain a sort of secrecy about this and I respect their will. They do all this for the good of Michael."

However, the decision hasn’t been an entirely popular one, as Michael’s former manager Willi Weber has publicly shared his upset at being unable to visit him following the accident. He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "It was a huge pain for me. 

"I tried hundreds of times to contact [his wife] Corinna and she didn't answer. I called Jean Todt to ask him if I should go to the hospital and he told me to wait – 'it’s too early'. I called the next day, and no one answered. I didn't expect behaviour like that and I'm still angry about it. They kept me out, telling me, 'It's too early', well, now it's too late. It's been nine years."

Mick's biggest supporter is his mother, Corinna Schumacher, pictured with him in Azerbaijan in April last year© Getty

Corinna with Mick

While Corinna is rarely seen in public, she occasionally has been pictured supporting her son and his career as a Formula 1 racer. 

Mick and Gina, Michael's two children, share a great relationship© Instagram

Mick and Gina Schumacher’s surprising careers 

Michael and Corinna’s children, Mick and Gina, have gone to have amazing careers in their own fields. Mick followed his father’s footsteps as a Formula 1 driver, and is the reserve driver for the Mercedes AMG Formula One Team at present. 

Speaking about his work back in 2021, he told the BBC: "It is motivation and pride. I am happy to be here... I am happy to have brought back the Schumacher name into F1. I have done it with championships on my back so we have proven I am able to drive a race car. So I don't feel a blink of pressure from it." 

Mick Schumacher is currently dating Danish model Laila Hasanovic© Instagram

Mick's relationship with Laila Hasanovic

Mick is hugely popular on Instagram with 3.6 million followers. While he never posts about his father out of respect, he recently became Instagram official with Danish model Laila Hasanovic. In a sweet Christmas photo shared on both accounts, the caption read: "Merry Christmas from us to you." 

Gina got her love for horses from her mother Corinna© Instagram

Gina's love of horseriding

Meanwhile, Gina has followed in Corinna’s footsteps, who was the European champion in western-style horse riding. Gina regularly competes in equestrian competitions, and has won the FEI European Reining Championship. 

She often shares snaps and clips of her career on Instagram. Recently posting a video of herself during a competition, she wrote: "Every day I wake up and get to do what I love. I’m grateful for my horses, team, friends & family, that I get to share my passion with! What are you grateful/thankful for?"

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