It is a clear winter day and almost nothing moves outside the £ 50 million mansion where Michael Schumacher is hidden from the world.
December 29, five years ago, the most successful Formula 1 driver in history, who will be 50 years old five days later, will drop and hit his head while skiing in Meribel, in the French Alps.
But Schumacher's wife Corinna, with whom he married in 1995, insisted on the secrecy of his condition, a request that was faithfully observed by everyone around them. Friends do not talk. If they do, they are no longer friends.
December 29 marks five years after Michael Schumacher fell and hit his head while skiing
A few hikers roam the silent forested paths outside the house of Schumacher on the shores of Lake Geneva. Michael & # 39; s father Rolf, the former bricklayer who led karts on their local Kerpen job near Cologne to support his son's career, is one of them.
You can hear golf balls pinging in the club next door, but none of the locals in Gland – a city of 13,000 located between Geneva and Lausanne – knows the latest medical situation of the superstar who lives among them.
But Rolf, who regularly comes from Switzerland to Switzerland from Bonn, confirms that Michael is inside, and shocking rumors that the world's first billionairesporter has been transferred to a 30 million-dollar holiday home that Corinna bought in Majorca this summer, or At least for the time being, a specialized brain trauma hospital in America.
Since the accident on a clear, sunny morning in Meribel on a & # 39; off-piste junction & # 39 ;, much has happened in Formula 1. Lewis Hamilton has outpaced the pole record of Schumacher, 83 to 68. But the former Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes great remain at the top in victories (91 to 73) and world championships (seven to five).
The fiery fan of Schumacher Sebastian Vettel has moved to Ferrari, but has so far failed to add to the fourth title he won in 2013. Vettel politely refused our investigation whether he had visited his recovering hero – a private man who recognizes the privacy of another.
The £ 50m mansion in Gland, Switzerland where Schumacher is hidden from the world
Max Verstappen, who was on holiday as a boy with the Schumachers because of his father Jos and Michael as contemporaries and friends, has emerged as the next potential star of the job, even though his aggressive driving behavior has caused controversy, such as the ruthlessness of Michael once did him.
The most moving, Michaels own son Mick, who was 14 years old when he hit that rock and got a brain hemorrhage, is the F3 champion and has signed to race next season for Prema in Formula 2, F1 & # 39; s feeder series . His future is promising, with seats on Mercedes or Ferrari one day possible.
Mick, who is as private as his father, never delivers medical newsletters to outsiders, but last month he told the German RTL channel about his relationship with Michael for the accident.
& # 39; My father asked if I wanted to race professionally or if we just had to do it for fun, as a hobby. Of course I said that I wanted to do it professionally.
The wife of Schumacher, Corinna, insisted that family and friends demand secrecy
& # 39; I always want to compare myself with the best, and my father is the best. He is also my idol. I am happy if I can compare myself with him. Many world champions compare themselves with my father. Even on days when the kart track was closed, we would go there and we could do some laps. That was always the best time. & # 39;
But in contrast to his son's rapidly evolving career, Schumacher's progress was slow at best.
However, Sportsmail understands that he is not bedridden. He is also not on tubes. Nevertheless, it is assumed that he receives extensive nursing and therapy care, which is estimated to cost more than £ 50,000 per week.
He is, as can be revealed, lived with his immediate family in the main part of his house instead of in an outbuilding that according to some reports was built in response to his injuries as a special medical facility, a kind of hospital home. In fact, the construction began before the accident occurred and the new house was always meant as the basis for his widow's father when he stayed.
Since the accident on a clear, sunny morning in Meribel much has happened in Formula 1
Apart from one comment in 2016 from the German lawyer Schumacher, Felix Damm, who confirmed to a court in Hamburg that the champion driver could not run & # 39 ;, further real updates were difficult to obtain.
One leak was thwarted, with tragic consequences, in 2014. It came after Schumacher was transferred from the University of Grenoble Hospital, where he had two lifesaving operations and stayed for five months before coming out of his induced coma, to the University Hospital in Lausanne.
Some of his medical records were stolen and offered to the media for £ 40,000. The suspected thief, who worked for Rega, the air rescue company that moved Schumacher, was arrested, only to be found in his cell suspended while awaiting an interview.
"We have no words and are deeply shocked," said Sabine Kehm, the loyal spokesperson for the Schumacher family.
The following year, a photo he took with him and by a friend was smuggled for £ 1 million roaming, in what German prosecutors described as a "violation of his personal life span"; and a breach of privacy. The image has never surfaced.
But we have recently caught a glimpse in the life of Schumacher, through the words of an archbishop who is a confidant of two popes. Dr. Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household of Pope Francis and secretary of the retired Pope, Benedict XVI, was asked by Schumacher's friend and former chief executive of Ferrari, now FIA president, Jean Todt, whether he was Schumacher at home would visit. He did this in 2016.
The seven-time world champion is still celebrating a victory during his dominating years at Ferrari
Ganswein said to the German newspaper Bild over the past few weeks: "I first spoke with Corinna Schumacher and her mother, then a therapist Michael Schumacher brought me to the living room, I introduced myself and told him that I am a secret fan, that I often watching his races, and being fascinated by how someone can drive such a machine at such high speeds with every weather.
I greeted Michael and held his hands. They were warm. Some things can not convey words, but a touch can. Holding the hand of a sick person is something deeply Christian that gives consolation and closeness. That was important to me. & # 39;
Todt is also a regular visitor, but never mind to reveal Michael's condition. He confirmed, however, that they had seen the Brazilian Grand Prix last month together in Schumacher's house. & # 39; I have photos from Michael in my offices and apartments, & # 39; Todt has often said, sometimes almost in tears. He is like a son to me. & # 39;
Another of Schumacher's old Ferrari teammates, Rubens Barrichello, wanted to visit, but was told: "It would not do him or me good." He said: & # 39; So I have no news, but we must respect the wishes of the family. & # 39;
But these insights are rare. Those close to Michael know exactly why Corinna, as is right, asked to carefully observe his confidentiality by friends.
As Schumacher's spokesman Kehm says: "Michael has always made a clear distinction between his professional and personal life, even during the most successful times of his career, and the family now wants to honor that distinction."
Moreover, prior to the accident, Schumacher had a sense of his own sporting prowess, of his athletic ability, which he had previously cultivated professionally in the gym than any racer. He was a proud man, and no one in his neighborhood wanted his own image and that of his devoted fans to be shattered by unpleasant updates.
So what is next?
The German magazine Bravo has reported that doctors are secretly preparing for the transfer from Schumacher to a clinic in Dallas, Texas, specializing in the treatment of brain injury.
Mark Weeks, the director, told the magazine cryptically: "We have a lot of experience with patients who suffer from this kind of trauma. There is probably no clinic in Europe that deals with as many cases as we do. & # 39;
The Schumacher family will not comment on speculation.
But before a possible move takes place, Michael's 50th birthday comes on January 3rd. Keep a change in the direction, or a happy transformation in his health, he will not be seen on the main day except by his best friends and family.
His fans will curse the desperate irony that a man who lived his professional life so quickly – and went through only a single serious Formula One accident, broke his leg at Silverstone in 1999 – could have been deeply wounded in such seemingly innocent circumstances. He was a fine skier and regularly won the downhill race at the annual Ferrari winter retreat at Madonna di Campiglio in the Italian Dolomites, where he would defeat Bacardi and Coca-Cola.
And what a further cruel irony that Schumacher should have been a prominent supporter of the ICM, a brain and spinal institution in Paris, long before his own calamity, energetically at work. The president of ICM is family friend Professor Gerard Saillant, the world-famous neurologist who flew to Schumacher's bed almost five years ago to help save his life on that fateful day.
The medical situation of Schumacher is secret, but it is understood that he is not bedridden
But Schumacher never longed for sympathy. As he said in 2007: "I have always believed that you would never give up and you should always keep fighting, even if there is only the least chance."
That feeling gave rise to the "Keep Fighting Initiative", set up by Kehm spokeswoman and meant to "spread" the positive energy that Michael's followers have shown him over the years & # 39; through good deeds, cultural and educational. Indeed, fan fans all over the world wave banners that offer support to the affected Schumacher, their hope unadulterated.
Plans will soon be unveiled for public recognition of its half century. But before those ideas were announced, Kehm expressed this deeply felt desire: "The best gift for Michael and the family as he approaches his 50th birthday is that people remember him as the best racer and record breaker he is. # 39;