Prayers of hope that you pull through this difficult time."Jenson Button said: "When I think of Michael Schumacher
I think of two things. "The first is one of my earliest memories of being in Formula 1 driving out of the pit lane in Melbourne and seeing Michael
’s red Ferrari ahead of me scattering the leaves as he drove beneath the trees at the approach to turn three. "The second thing I think about is that familiar red car snaking about in my mirrors.
Michael Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm announced recently that he was no longer in a coma and was on "the long process of recovery".
However, speaking anonymously, a long-time friend of the Schumacher family, today said: "He didn’t die in the accident and he didn’t die during the two emergency operations that followed it.
"He came out of the coma and he has had periods of awakening where he is able to make the smallest of nods.
"The question remains, however, about how much improvement can be expected in the coming months and years. Will he speak again? Will he walk again? Will he be able to feed and dress himself?
"The doctors don’t know. No one can know.
"The probability is that he will never be the man he was before the accident. That much is starkly clear."
Michael Schumacher now has a team of 15 medical experts treating him at a special clinic built in the grounds of his mansion home, in Switzerland.
The tailored medical facilities also house a room for the driver's father ? who has moved from Germany to be close to his son.
After remaining in a coma for 159 days, Michael Schumacher relies on machines and tubes to feed, breathe and pass waste for him.
Care costs are estimated to run at over £100,000 a week in wage bills and medical equipment rental.
Each day Schumacher, 45, is massaged for hours in an effort to stimulate muscle mass and is assessed every hour for improvements.
A former medical delegate for the Formula 1 World Championship Dr Gary Hartstein has slammed the uplifting updates from Schumacher's management.
He said: "We are told, with what seems to be a bit of a triumphal air, that Michael is no longer in a coma."
But pointing out that the sportsman's coma was artificially-induced, said: "I cannot help but think this is highly cynical use of language, using the truth to convey an impression that is almost certainly false.
"I cannot help but think that if Michael had emerged at all from the minimally conscious state we would be told that he is having problems expressing himself and will work hard to get better or that he is having to learn to walk, read and write all over again.
"This all leaves a very bad taste in my mouth and huge sadness for Michael’s family.
"As time goes on it becomes less and less likely that Michael will emerge to any significant extent."
Asked about life-expectancy, Dr Hartstein ? who believes the decorated driver is still for all intents and purposes ? said: "Life expectancy for a comatose patient who does not improve neurologically is measured in months to a relatively few years."
The world, Dr Hartstein said, is now watching the "long goodbye" of its greatest racing star.
The media-blackout around the racer's recovery ? including special tents erected to prevent paparazzi shots of the star outside in his wheelchair ? means the majority of the Schumacher's legions of fans still believe he is, albeit slowly, on the road to recovery.
Paying tribute to his dear friend, Lewis Hamilton wrote to him: "Dear Michael, You are always in my prayers. Prayers of hope that you pull through this difficult time."
Jenson Button said: "When I think of Michael Schumacher I think of two things.
"The first is one of my earliest memories of being in Formula 1 driving out of the pit lane in Melbourne and seeing Michael’s red Ferrari ahead of me scattering the leaves as he drove beneath the trees at the approach to turn three.
"The second thing I think about is that familiar red car snaking about in my mirrors. Michael was such a formidable racer... relentlessly competitive. Always there for him."
Wife Corinna would be thrilled even to see her husband in a wheelchair, by next summer, friends have claimed.
Speaking anonymously to The Daily Mail, they said: "Even to see him sitting upright would make things seem so much better. Until then she will be simply thankful that at least he is at home, surrounded by the family who love him and pray daily for his recovery."