New reports suggest that Michael Schumacher is slowly being woken from his medically induced coma - and experts are "cautiously optimistic" about his recovery.
The seven-times F1 world champion racing driver has been kept in an induced sleep since suffering severe head injuries after hitting a rock while skiing off-piste in Meribel, in the French Alps, over a month ago.
According to the Mirror, leading French sports paper L'Equipe said on Wednesday: "After four weeks in a coma Schumacher has been placed in a phase of gradual awakening. It is a slow and uncertain process of return.
"He is responding positively to the process, started this week."
The Daily Telegraph reports that Sabine Kehm, Mr Schumacher's manager, said: "Michael's condition is still considered as stable.
"I repeat that Michael's family is very happy and confident with the work of the team of doctors treating Michael, and they trust them completely."
He recently received muscle treatment while in the medically induced coma to stop his muscles from seizing up.
The Express reports that doctors had feared waking him up too early in case his injuries saw him lapse into a 'waking coma', also known as a permanent vegetative state.
Jean-Marc Orgogozo, Professor of Neurology at the University of Bordeaux, said: "Every day, every week in a coma the chances decline that the situation is improving."
But his family say: "We all know: he is a fighter and will not give up!"
And Sabine urged people to take any reports that do not come directly from doctors or his management team as "speculation".
According to the Daily Telegraph, Professor Jean-Luc Truelle, the former head of the neurology department of the Foch hospital in Suresnes, told L'Equipe that a month is "the maximum period before entering into this phase" of coming out of an artificial coma.
His wife, Corinna, has been by his bedside since the accident on 29 December. The couple have two children, Gina Marie, 16, and Mick, 14.
Michael Schumacher receiving muscle training in coma
Michael Schumacher in danger of being in 'permanent vegetative state'