Only close family members and a handful of trustworthy friends are allowed through the high gates of Michael Schumacher's house on the shores of Lake Geneva.
And the silence has surrounded the state of German since he hit his head skiing in the French Alps six and a half years ago. This was followed by several life-saving operations and 254 days in the hospital.
One of the few welcome callers is Jean Todt, Schumacher's former Ferrari team principal, and now in his penultimate year as President of the FIA Formula 1 governing body.
FIA President Jean Todt (left) opened up to his ailing friend Michael Schumacher (right).
Todt was Ferrari's team principal when Schumacher drove and won titles for the team
In Budapest, where Lewis Hamilton – the 90th of his career – took pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix, the Frenchman chose his words carefully, loyally and only under pressure. "I saw Michael last week," he said. & # 39; He is fighting. I hope the world will see him again. This is what he and his family are working towards. & # 39;
The two men worked together in a symbiotic union to restore Ferrari's fortune after two dormant decades, and Todt (74) regards Schumacher (51) as a second son. Sometimes they watch races together in Schumacher's house in a wooded corner of Gland, a city of 13,000 between Geneva and Lausanne. And Todt is in close contact with Corinna, Schumacher's devoted 25-year-old woman.
She has insisted on almost complete secrecy, except for the strange official comments that reflect her husband's essentially reserved and proud nature.
The Frenchman spoke about Schumacher's current state and expressed his "love".
Reports from last month indicated that Schumacher was going to have stem cell surgery, although a family-friendly source – not Todt – told The Mail on Sunday that, at least for the time being, this was an unlikely treatment, given the limitations caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Schumacher's name appears more than once in my extensive conversation with Todt in his office on top of the Hungaroring paddock. However, medical bulletins are strictly prohibited.
I ask him if he thinks Schumacher is the greatest driver of all time and how he feels now when Hamilton approaches his friend's two highest records with 91 wins and seven world titles. The Briton, 35 years old, stands at 85 or six.
"I love Michael," said Todt, "but it is impossible to say who is the best. There are Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Ayrton Senna and Michael. You can only think of who is the best in a particular generation.
Todt said that "it is impossible to say who is the best of all time" in F1 because the German has 91 wins
“I know that it can happen that Lewis surpasses Michael’s record as the most titled driver in history. All ingredients are at Mercedes so that he can do that. I honestly don't mind.
“I remember 2000 when I was on the podium with Michael in Suzuka after winning his first title with Ferrari, and I told him that our lives would never be the same again. We had achieved everything we wanted. After an accident like Michael, is it important if Lewis wins more?
& # 39; It's a question of proportions. We're all lucky in Formula One when you see what's going on in the world, and not just the Monster Covid-19. & # 39;
Todt, a UN Special Envoy for Road Safety who is still working long nights that would exhaust many younger men, calls it a miracle that the season has started despite the virus – a tribute to the hard work of the entire Formula 1 family . Today's Grand Prix is the third round in the full opening week of three weeks of a rejigged championship, in which 10 races have been confirmed so far. The goal is between 15 and 18 rounds.
A key theme of the early season was Hamilton's campaign for racial equality in the face of the murder of George Floyd by a white policeman in Minneapolis. Todt announced that the world champion was writing to ask him and the FIA for support. He replied supportively.
Todt announced that after his first title, he told Michael that their lives would never be the same
Todt, the son of a Polish-Jewish doctor, has donated nearly £ 1 million to combat discrimination from the FIA. He said: “As a child I was told not to say anything about my father's origins. But when I was a teenager, 17 or 18, I decided never to deny it.
& # 39; My wife (actress Michelle Yeoh) is yellow. She is Chinese. Sometimes she has problems.
& # 39; Lewis has a strong sense of racism. It is a thing that is dear to him. & # 39;
However, not all of his riders took a knee on the grid, including Max Verstappen from Red Bull and Charles Leclerc from Ferrari, although all wore T-shirts titled "End Racism".
Todt understands reservations about forced gestures and adds: “Everyone has to express what they believe in the way they choose. People are different. Some are loud, others are silent.
“But we all strive to end racism.
& # 39; I say: Life is important. Lives important. Not just black lives. Or yellow lives. Or white lives. All life. & # 39;
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