The president of Ferrari, Luca Cordeo di Montezemolo, said he was still in shock about Michael Schumacher being in a coma after a catastrophic skiing accident.

Montezemolo hailed the stricken German star who won five consecutive world championships in Formula One for the iconic prancing horse from 2000.

Sixty-six-year-old Montezemolo said that the 45-year-old needed the "affection" of everyone while he lay unconcious with devastating head injuries.

Montezemolo said: "Michael was and still is a very important person in my life. From 1996 onwards so many things happened in the lives of both of us and, in the difficult times, Michael was always incredibly close to the team.

"What's happened to him was a real shock to me, after all the events we shared and a great affection still remains. Michael at the moment needs that affection and support from everyone."

Schumacher gave Ferrari back its pride when he arrived at the team in 1996 when it was a famous but under-achieving outfit. With the German behind the wheel and chief engineer Ross Brawn in the garage, Ferrari became the dominant force in F1.

Schumacher has been unconscious in Gernoble Hospital since he crashed in to rocks on the ski slopes of Meribel resort in the French Alps late last year.

The German's spokeswoman said recently: "The wake-up phase can take a long time."