Jules Bianchi is no longer in an induced coma but remains unconscious, his family said in a statement.
The Frenchman has been in an artificial coma since he suffered severe head trauma when he crashed into a recovery vehicle that was removing Adrian Sutil’s Sauber at the Japanese Grand Prix at the beginning of October.
His family, though, issued an encouraging press release on Wednesday, confirming he is breathing unaided and will be moved from the hospital in Yokkaichi to the Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice.
“Jules is no longer in the artificial coma in which he was placed shortly after the accident, however he is still unconscious,” the statement said.
“He is breathing unaided and his vital signs are stable, but his condition is still classified as ‘critical’. His treatment now enters a new phase concerned with the improvement of his brain function.
“Jules’ neurological condition remains stable. Although the situation continues to be serious, and may remain so, it was decided that Jules was sufficiently stable to be repatriated to his native France.
“We are relieved, therefore, to confirm that Jules was transferred aeromedically last night from the Mie Prefectural General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, Japan, to Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU), where he arrived just a short time ago.
“Jules is now in the intensive care unit of Professors Raucoules and Ichai, where his care will also be monitored by Professor Paquis, Head of Neurosurgery Service.”
The family also expressed their gratitude to the medical staff at the Mie Prefectural General Medical Center.
The statement added: “We are thankful that the next phase of Jules’ treatment can continue close to home, where he can be surrounded and supported by his wider family and friends.
“We have nothing but praise for the outstanding care provided by the Mie Prefectural General Medical Center since the accident.
“We owe the medical staff there an enormous debt of gratitude for everything they have done for Jules, and also for our family, during what is a very difficult time for us.
“In particular, we would like to extend our thanks to Doctors Kamei and Yamamichi, and also to Mr Ogura, all part of the team of personnel caring for Jules in Japan.”