SPECULATION is growing that former Formula One star Michael Schumacher's ski bindings may have failed, possibly causing the accident that has left him critically ill in hospital.

Local prosecutors in France are due to hold a press conference today to announce developments in the investigation amid reports special clips on Schumacher's boots may have malfunctioned before he fell, hitting his head on a rock and leaving him with brain injuries.

The seven-times world champion's wife, Corinna, issued a plea for the family's privacy to be respected and for journalists and TV crews to leave the hospital where he is being treated in Grenoble, France.

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Schumacher was admitted to hospital on December 29 after suffering brain injuries and has since undergone two operations to remove blood clots and reduce swelling.

The 45-year-old is in an artificially induced coma. Mrs Schumacher said: "Please support us in our common fight with Michael. It is important to me that you leave the doctors and the hospital so that they can work in peace."