Jean Todt has visited his friend Michael Schumacher since the F1 legend returned home after months in hospital and rehabilitation.
The pair worked together at Ferrari through the Italian team's ultra-successful period last decade.
"In the past weeks and months, he has made progress in relation to the severity of his injury," Todt, now FIA president, is quoted by the French daily L'Equipe.
"But a long and hard road is in front of him," he added, referring to Schumacher's continuing recovery from head injuries sustained in a skiing fall last December.
Todt said he visited the German and his family at their Swiss home earlier this week.
"Hopefully things will improve," he added. "His family is close to him. He needs time and peace."