Doctors have begun the process of bringing Michael Schumacher out of the coma they placed him in after he struck his head in a skiing accident Dec. 29.

The former Formula One champion has been hospitalized in Grenoble, France, since he fell while skiing with his 14-year-old son in Meribel, France. Schumacher, 45, has undergone procedures to relieve swelling on the brain and remove blood clots and sporadic updates have described his condition as stable but critical.

“Michael’s sedation is being reduced in order to allow the start of the waking up process which may take a long time,” Schumacher’s manager, Sabine Kehm, said in a statement.

“The family of Michael Schumacher is again requesting to respect its privacy and the medical secret, and to not disturb the doctors treating Michael in their work. At the same time, the family wishes to express sincere appreciation for the worldwide sympathy. … For the protection of the family, it was originally agreed by the interested parties to communicate this information only once this process was consolidated. Please note that no further updates will be given.”

This week, the Formula One Mercedes driven by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will carry the message “KeepFightingMichael” during preseason testing in Jerez.

“He’s still in a coma and we still don’t know what shape he will be in when he wakes up, which is horrible, especially for his family and close friends, not knowing what is going to happen,” his friend, Sebastian Vettel, said (via the Telegraph). “I’m still as shocked as everybody else, and I pray and hope the miracle will happen, he will come back and be the person he was before.”