Michael Schumacher's wife has appealed to the media to leave the French hospital they have staked out since he was critically injured in a skiing accident nine days ago and to let the doctors do their job.
Corinna Schumacher also asked the media to leave her family in peace after German reports said on Monday there had been a slight improvement in the former driver's condition, hours after Grenoble hospital had issued a bulletin saying he was still stable but critical.
"Please support us in our joint struggle with Michael," Corinna said. "It is important to me that you relieve the doctors and the hospital so they can work in peace.
"Please trust their statements and leave the hospital.”
“Please also leave our family in peace."
They were Corinna's first public comments since a statement on 30 December in which she thanked the medical team for their efforts and expressed gratitude to fans around the world for their outpouring of support.
The hospital and Schumacher's manger, Sabine Kehm, have repeatedly asked the media to respect his privacy.
Schumacher's fall has generated huge media interest, with his hospital in the French city of Grenoble under siege by reporters and photographers.
A source close to Schumacher said on Monday he had seen a "slight improvement", after doctors said he was still in a stable but critical condition.
The medical team have held news conferences and issued periodic bulletins on his condition including one on Monday that said: "The clinical state of Michael Schumacher is stable as he's under permanent care and treatment.
"However, the medical team in charge stresses that it continues to assess his situation as critical."
Following a flurry of media speculation about Schumacher's condition, the team treating him said they would give no further details of the care the 45-year-old is receiving in order to protect his right to privacy.
"That also applies when the victim is famous."
The German Federation of Journalists echoed Corinna Schumacher's plea in its own statement, urging reporters to use restraint while covering the Schumacher story.
FedEration chairman Michael Konken noted that the German journalists' code of conduct requires "respect for the suffering of victims and the feelings of loved ones".
Konken called on media outlets to respect Corinna Schumacher's call to quit the hospital and respect the family's privacy, saying he was confident the doctors and Schumacher's management would provide timely updates on his condition.
But he defended the volume of coverage devoted to the accident.
"Michael Schumacher is, due to his Formula One successes, extraordinarily famous. Many people fear for his life after his skiing accident.”
“Media must report on that."
Meanwhile, the focus has diverted onto the circumstances of Schumacher's fall on an off-piste section in between two slopes at the Meribel resort, which French investigators are probing to try and determine responsibility for the accident.
They are looking at the speed at which he was going at the time of the accident and are due to brief the press on their findings so far on Wednesday morning.
Schumacher was wearing a camera strapped to his helmet when he fell, and a source close to the probe said on Tuesday that footage from the device could be used.
"It's an important document."
It had been unclear until now whether the camera was working at the time of the accident, or whether the footage would be clear enough to use, and it could be vital in helping investigators determine the speed.
Prosecutors are also looking at whether the limits of the ski runs next to the accident site were correctly marked and whether the rock in question was lying close enough to the piste to require some kind of protection or signage.
They are also examining whether the safety releases on Schumacher's skis were working properly.
CAUGHT ON TAPE
A German flight steward had also told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine that he had accidentally filmed Schumacher at the time of the accident and that the racing champion had been going at a maximum speed of about 20 km/h.
He had told the magazine he would hand over the footage to French police, which he has not done so far, the source said. - Reuters/AFP/Sapa-dpa