Lewis Hamilton stunned Formula One fans today when asked in an interview about Michael Schumacher's skiing accident and replying with the comment 'all things happen for a reason'.
Seven-times Formula One world champion Schumacher has been in an artificially induced coma for almost 11 weeks since hitting his head on a rock while skiing in the French Alps.
Yesterday his family said he is showing 'small, encouraging signs' and that they remain confident he will 'pull through and will wake up'.
Hamilton's seemingly insensitive remark came as he was speaking to press at Melbourne's St Kilda Beach ahead of the Melbourne Grand Prix this weekend.
Supporters of the British driver will argue that the comment should not be taken out of context and that Hamilton was expressing his confidence that Schumacher will wake up and make a full recovery.
Hamilton, 29, said: 'As a young driver who watched Michael through his early days, and championship wins, we - as Formula One - will carry him through the whole of the season.
'I am in touch with his people, so I am fortunate to get first-hand news of what is happening and we are all waiting for him to wake up and show those positive signs.
'He's a legend in the sport, you know, who has achieved so much, a very motivated individual.
'So I feel like all things happen for a reason, I think that this is an experience that will really show his character and depth and even more so than any other experiences he's had.'
Schumacher was placed in an induced coma after undergoing two operations to remove blood clots from his brain in the wake of his skiing accident on December 29.
He remains in a waking-up process at the University of Grenoble hospital in France.
In a statement issued on behalf of the 45-year-old's family, the F1 star's agent said: 'We are, and remain confident, Michael will pull through and will wake up.'
'There sometimes are small, encouraging signs, but we also know this is the time to be very patient.
'Michael has suffered severe injuries. It is very hard to comprehend for all of us that Michael, who had overcome a lot of precarious situations in the past, has been hurt so terribly in such a banal situation.
'It was clear from the start this will be a long and hard fight for Michael, and we are taking this fight on together with the team of doctors, whom we fully trust.
'The length of the process is not the important part for us.
Given the longevity of his situation, however, that has led to an increasing number of reports he will never awaken, or if he does, he will be severely limited with regard to his functions and capabilities.
Today's positive news follows a report last week that Schumacher's family were informed by doctors treating him that the chances of recovery are now so slim that only 'a miracle' can save him.
'It is heart-warming to see how much sympathy his family is shown and I can say the family is extremely grateful for it.
'However, it should not be forgotten Michael's family is dealing with an extremely intimate and fragile situation.
'And I would like to remind all of us Michael has always actively kept his family out of the public eye and consequently protected their private lives.