Former Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher has been admitted to a Paris hospital for “secret treatment”.
Le Parisien newspaper reported Schumacher has been in the hospital’s cardiovascular surgery department since Monday and is in the care of cardiac surgeon Professor Philippe Menasché, who specialises in cell therapy to treat heart failure.
Schumacher is expected to stay in the hospital for two days.
The Ferrari great turned 50 on January 3 but has not been seen in public since a skiing accident in the French Alps five years ago that left him with severe head injuries and in a medically-induced coma for several months.
The report claimed Schumacher has been benefiting from infusions of stem cells that are distributed in the body to obtain a systemic anti-inflammatory action.
Earlier this year former Ferrari boss and close friend of Schumacher Jean Todt provided a worrying update on the health of the former driver.
Todt told the Daily Express that he was saddened by the fact that his friendship with Schumacher could never be the same again.
“His family is fighting just as much and of course our friendship cannot be the same as it once was,” Todt said.
“Just because there’s no longer the same communication as before. I can only say that his family is taking good care of him and he continues to fight.”
After the race, Whincup took to the broadcast to slam officials, claiming they are “making decisions that are just cruising back, just having a few glasses of red each night, and rocking up to the track and the brain’s not with it”.
Whincup’s Triple Eight team acknowledged the driver’s error, but led the call for an investigation into the Safety Car procedure, with several other drivers disadvantaged by the incident.
On Monday, Australian motorsport governing body the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) announced Whincup will be issued with a ‘please explain’ letter, with possible sanctions to follow.
In a statement, Whincup opened up on his frustrations.
“Now that the heat of the battle has subsided, I’ve had a chance to reflect on Sunday’s race,” the 36-year-old said.
“I without fail give 110 per cent in every race and that inevitably leads to passions running high.
“This passion spreads throughout the whole team and we had worked incredibly hard to put ourselves into a great position on Sunday.
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“I have asked myself today though, were my comments post-race helpful? The answer to that is no.
“I’m a big believer in helping people to do their jobs to the best of their ability and that’s what I should have focused on instead of criticising.”
Whincup added he wished to have “made a smarter split-second decision” in the race, and acknowledged the weight of his heated comments.
“While I knew I wasn’t the leader of the race, and despite my engineer confidently telling me over the radio to not get held up by the Safety Car, the lights in front of me were orange.
“Every athlete in any sport needs to follow the directions of the officials, whether they feel the correct decision was made or not.
“I recognise I am role model and so the critical point I want to make to all the kids watching is that passing the Safety Car and going against the officials’ decision isn’t how we should play.
“In hindsight I wish I made a smarter split-second decision.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you that watched Pukekohe on the weekend, both at the track and on TV or online, as it was a cracking weekend of racing that really showed the current strength of our amazing sport.”
After starting from pole for the 70-lap race, then-effective race leader Whincup copped a drive-through penalty over his decision to pass the Safety Car after it incorrectly picked up his #88 ZB Commodore as the actual leader.
There were some positives to come from the race, with career-best finishes falling the way of Todd Hazelwood (fifth) and Simona De Silvestro (seventh). Scott Pye also finished sixth, while Mark Winterbottom, Richie Stanaway and James Golding filled positions eight through 10.
Regardless, the end result left a bitter taste in the mouths of many, with fans demonstrating their anger with the Safety Car procedure on social media.
After starting on the front row for the first time since 2011, Holdsworth (#5 The Bottle-O Racing Mustang) couldn’t hide his fury over the “complete and utter stuff up” that left him 15th at race’s end.
“I don’t know what else to say,” Holdsworth said.
“The boys and Sammy [Scaffidi, race engineer] did a great job and gave me a great car, we put it on the front row, and we have nothing to show for it.
“We finally had a real good chance to take home some silverware and something like that takes it away from us. I have no words.”
Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang) went one step further, suggesting the race result should be annulled.
“I had a really good race car, was just trucking around, we would have been on for a podium, but obviously race control managed to screw that one up royally,” Waters said.
“It’s an embarrassment that a championship can do that and classify it as full points.
“So as far as I’m concerned I want an explanation from the powers that be, and I think that race should be zero points.”
Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto Racing Mustang) was a beneficiary after moving from seventh to third, but said his podium should have fallen the way of his teammate.
“This is probably bittersweet, I don’t deserve this trophy today, this is all for Lee Holdsworth,” Mostert said.
“What happened in the race just shouldn’t happen and he deserves this podium more than us, he was in a better spot, so it’s a shame.
“I’m lost for words because this is for Lee Holdsworth, this is his trophy.”