NO RESPONSE: Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher is still recovering from brain injuries suffered in a 2013 skiing crash. Image: AFP
Zurich - Former Formula 1 priest Don Sergio Mantovani has tipped Michael Schumacher to keep fighting.
As the sport emerges from its summer slumber, minds are being cast back to 25 years ago, when as a 22-year-old the F1 legend made his meteoric debut for Jordan at Spa, qualifying seventh and launching his record-setting grand prix career.
Schumacher, of course, went on to win at Spa-Francorchamps a record six times, and in 2004 clinched his final and seventh drivers' world championship at the track that was not far from his German birthplace.
That was when he raced for Ferrari, whose long-serving priest is Don Sergio Mantovani, also a well-known figure in the F1 paddock through the years.
Mantovani told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag: "Michael is still a hero here (at Maranello).
"He loved Ferrari and we Italians love him."
Now 47, Schumacher's current physical and mental condition is basically unknown, approaching three years after he fell whilst skiing late in 2013, incurring brain damage.
"I know he believes in God"
Mantovani added: "What we saw as a driver and certainly what is true still today is that Michael is a fighter, I know he believes in God, but doesn't go to church."
As for Schumacher's current condition, he commented: "I know probably more than I want to say, but recently I have had no contact. I still pray for Michael."
Mantovani said: "Why this is happening to him and how it will proceed, only God knows the answer."
Mick Schumacher racing in Formula 4
The Modena priest was also asked about Schumacher's son Mick, and said: "I have been following his racing and hear he is doing well in F4.
The Priest said: "Of course, he is missing his dad right now at the race track and in life, but these are all tests from God. I am sure that he will make his way."