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F1 sends messages to Schumacher

JEREZ, Spain (AP) - Both his former team Mercedes and the current Formula One world champion sent messages of support during Tuesday's preseason testing to German great Michael Schumacher as he continues in coma a month after a skiing accident.

Mercedes included a message for Schumacher on the side of its new Formula One car, while four-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel said he was praying for his friend and countryman.

Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg unveiled Mercedes' silver-and-turquoise W05 before the first session of the preseason began at the Jerez track. The upper part of its chassis just behind the driver's seat carries the Twitter hashtag (hash)KeepFightingMichael.

Rosberg was Schumacher's teammate for three seasons before the seven-time world champion retired from F1 for a second time at the end of 2012.

''We want to show as a team that we are thinking of him and hoping for the best every day,'' said Rosberg, while Hamilton added that Schumacher's accident was ''tragic.''

Vettel, who drives for rival Red Bull, says that he ''was as shocked as anyone else in the paddock.''

''I have known him for a long time and have been looking up to him all my life,'' said Vettel. ''I got to know him obviously when he did his comeback a little bit more and became his friend.

''It's horrible, especially for his family and close friends not knowing what's going to happen. In that regard, as I said, I'm still shocked as everyone and obviously I pray and hope a miracle will happen and he will come back and be the person he has always been before.''

Schumacher suffered severe head injuries when he hit his head on a rock while skiing in the French Alps on Dec. 29 and has been in an induced coma since. He remains in a stable condition.

Preseason testing continues in southern Spain until Friday. The next tests will be held in Bahrain on Feb. 19-22 and Feb. 27-March 2. The season opens with the Australian Grand Prix on March 16.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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