The German has not been seen in public since he suffered severe brain injuries while skiing in the French Alps five years ago.
“Our champion turns 50 today. We’re all with you, Michael #KeepFighting,” said Ferrari, remembering a driver who won five consecutive titles for the Italian team between 2000 and 2004.
“Michael, you’ve always been a fighter and you will continue to be one,” Jean Todt, former head of Ferrari and current president of the governing body of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), said on Twitter.
Schumacher now lives under strong security measures in a mansion on Lake Geneva in the Swiss city of Gland, with his wife Corinna and children.
“They can be sure that he is in the best hands and that we are doing everything humanly possible to help him,” his family said Wednesday in a statement, in which he also announced the launch of an application on Michael Schumacher.
Thursday’s tributes focused on the sporting achievements of a man who still holds records for titles and victories in F1 (91), despite the latent threat of British Lewis Hamilton, who has five titles.
The F1 website declared “Schumacher Week,” with stories and interviews reviewing the career of the 2012 retiree after an unsuccessful three-year comeback with Mercedes.
“Michael has had a tremendous impact on F1,” said Mercedes team leader Toto Wolff in a statement. “Not only did he set an incredible record, a record that is still valid, but he also changed the sport forever.
“As a driver, Michael took F1 to a whole new level with his attention to detail and technical knowledge,” added the Austrian.
Formula One CEO Ross Brawn, a key player in Schumacher’s career in Benetton and Ferrari, and also as head of Mercedes before Wolff took office, also referred to the German’s birthday.
“I think one of the things I would say about Michael throughout his career is that the people who worked with him never had a bad word to say about him,” the Brit said in a podcast. “In the teams, he worked for, he always made a great impression and showed great loyalty.
Schumacher spent 18 seasons in Formula One over a period of 21 years and won at least one victory in 15 consecutive campaigns (1992-2006). Hamilton has done the same so far for 12 consecutive seasons.
The German’s career was also marred by controversy and his achievements were overshadowed by the feeling that he always benefited from having a better car and a subordinate team-mate in his years at Ferrari. But his talent was indisputable, especially on wet tracks.
He was also a family man who fiercely guarded his privacy.
His son Mick, 19, is ready to debut this year in Formula Two, the category that is below Formula One, after winning the European title of the F3, while Gina-Marie, his 21-year-old daughter, is a talent in equitation.