For a little over three years now, Michael Schumacher has been inspiration for many to “keep fighting”. The F1 racer and 7-time champion suffered a severe head injury in 2013. He had since been battling to recover, fighting the near-death experience and comas through intensive therapy. And for three years, Mercedes has used the hashtag #KeepFightingMichael on their cars, as a gesture of support for their one-time driver.
That is, until just a few weeks ago, when the hashtag was dropped. A team spoksman informed German newspaper Bild that “it was removed in order to free the way for future usage of the message”, as per Auto Week.
Naturally, fan response to removal of the message from their cars’ livery has been quite incensed.
A “Stupid” Decision
With Mercedes no longer using #KeepFightingMichael on their cars, longtime fans of “the greatest racer ever” took to social media:
— Leah Haywood (@leahhaywood_) March 15, 2017
— James Beckley (@mrjimbecks) March 15, 2017
Others went on to call the decision “a stupid move”. Another called Mercedes a team with “no loyalty”.
But here’s what makes the anger so justified: the team had once stated that the stickers would stay on the cars, “as long as Michael is fighting his difficult fight.” There weren’t supposed to be any time limits there. No caveats or conditions. It was supposed to be a constant message of support with no strings attached and in this regard, Mercedes failed.
Schumacher had raced for Mercedes from 2010 to 2012.
Despite the online outrage, Mercedes has insisted that the decision to remove the message of support is only cosmetic. They stated that the brand will continue to support the Schumachers: “Mercedes and the family of Michael Schumacher will work together on a variety of common activities which will be communicated in time,” the spokesperson said.
— Wheels24 (@Wheels24) March 15, 2017
Plenty of time has passed since the 2013 skiing accident that incapacitated Michel Schumacher. despite that, support continues to flow for him online. The #KeepFightingMichael has continuously made the rounds on Twitter. Using the hashtag, fans reminisce old victories, or near wins that could have added to his already-illustrious career. A solid number of those messages online have been inquiries into updates of his health condition, too. However, the family has opted to keep the status of his recovery quite private.
The website KeepFighting.ms, a nonprofit movement dedicated to Schumacher, was launched in 2016. The initiative aims to inspire others in the spirit of no-surrender, as Michael Schumacher continues battling to recover. Keep Fighting‘s activities include charity football events and an award for individuals with extraordinary triumphs over adversity. They are also planning more exhibits dedicated to Michael Schumacher.
The phrase was inspired directly by Schumacher himself. In 2007, he said, “I’ve always believed that you should never give up and you should always keep fighting even when there’s only a slight chance.”