Michael Schumacher critical after ski accident
A file photo of former Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Germany skiing during a winter retreat in the Dolomite resort of Madonna Di CampiglioReuters

Michael Schumacher is "responding to instructions" and was able to blink, as doctors endeavour to slowly bring him out of his coma.

The racing champion's manager Sabine Kehm confirmed the reports in an official statement saying: "Michael's sedation is being reduced in order to allow the start of the waking up process which may take a long time."

Kehm said she was only providing an update on Schumacher's condition to clarify media leaks, and that no further details would be provided.

"For the protection of the family, it was originally agreed by the interested parties to communicate this information only once this process was consolidated.

"The family of Michael Schumacher is again requesting for their privacy, and the medical secret, to be respected, and to not disturb the doctors treating Michael in their work.

"At the same time, the family wishes to express sincere appreciation for the sympathy they have received from around the world."

The F1 racing driver suffered serious head injuries when he fell and hit his head on a rock, while skiing in the French resort of Meribel on December 29. The impact was said to be so strong it split his helmet in two.

Michael Schumacher's wife Corinna has asked for the Formula One legend to be left alone by the media in Grenoble
Michael Schumacher's wife Corinna has asked for the Formula One legend to be left alone by the media in GrenobleReuters

He has been in an induced coma in Grenoble University Hospital ever since, and while his condition was initially described as critical, he has stabilized following surgery.

Head doctor Emmanuel Gay has been testing his neurological reflexes since Monday (27 January).

French newspaper l'Equipe reported that the seven times racing champion responded during the tests. "During the early stages the patient blinked," the sports newspaper stated.

The German racing driver's wife Corinna Schumacher and their children have been maintaining a constant bedside vigil since the crash. Corinna Schumacher insists her husband is a "fighter" who will not give up

Experts have said that is a positive sign that Schumacher's doctors were trying to bring him out of the coma, and stated that the first 24 hours would be critical.

Doctors who are treating Michael Schumacher at Grenoble hospital revealed a small improvement in his condition
Doctors who are treating Michael Schumacher at Grenoble hospital revealed a small improvement in his conditionBBC

Dr. Clemens Pahl, a brain trauma expert at King's College Hospital in London said: "It means they have probably seen the pressure in his skull reduced."

Pahl warned, however that if the racing driver hasn't recovered sufficiently to wake up on his own, doctors might need to put him back in the coma.

"It could be that swelling in his brain hasn't come to an end yet so they might need to increase the medications again," he said.

Pahl added that it sometimes takes several attempts to bring a patient out of an induced coma.

Schumacher's family are said to be deeply moved by the global show of support for the champion racing driver.

Schumacher dominated Formula One before retiring in 2012, winning more titles than any other driver and enjoying 91 Grand Prix victories between 1994 and 2004.