Michael Schumacher's doctors have begun to reduce the seven-time Formula 1 world champion's sedation to begin what they describe as "the waking up process".
Schumacher has been in a coma in a Grenoble hospital since suffering head injuries in a skiing accident on December 29 last year.
His management issued a statement on Thursday announcing that steps towards him waking him from the coma had begun, but that the process could be long.
"Michael's sedation is being reduced in order to allow the start of the waking up process which may take a long time," it read.
"For the protection of the family, it was originally agreed by the interested parties to communicate this information only once this process was consolidated."
Schumacher's management have repeatedly underlined in recent weeks that only information released by them or the hospital should be treated as accurate, amid a global clamour for more news about the injured German.
In Thursday's statement, they reiterated this request while also thanking fans and the F1 community for their support.
"The family of Michael Schumacher is again requesting to respect its privacy and the medical secrets, 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."