Ex-F1 driver Jules Bianchi dies

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 18, 2015

Former Marussia Formula 1 driver, Jules Bianchi, has succumbed to injuries he sustained during last year’s rain affected Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

His death is also the first in the sport since that of Aytron Senna and Roland Ratzenberger during the ill-fated 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

The 25 year old, who had been in coma since the accident in the October, was running near the back of the field when he lost control in the torrential conditions, before slamming into a recovery tractor that had been removing the Sauber of Adrian Sutil from the barriers at the Turn five Dunlop corner.

He was later transferred to a hospital in Nice after being diagnosed as having suffered a diffuse axonal injury by Japanese doctors.

A subsequent investigation by the FIA found that Bianchi failed to slow quick enough in responding to the double waved yellow flags, and that his application of the brakes with both feet “overrode a failsafe mechanism”. A video, later posted on YouTube, showed, the Marussia sliding sideways into the tractor with enough force to lift it from the ground for a few seconds. The impact was reported as having triggered a g-force rating of 92.

In a statement, Bianchi's family stated that he “fought right to the very end, as he always did, but today his battle came to an end”.

“The pain we feel is immense and indescribable. We wish to thank the medical staff at Nice's CHU who looked after him with love and dedication. We also thank the staff of the General Medical Center in the Mie Prefecture (Japan) who looked after Jules immediately after the accident, as well as all the other doctors who have been involved with his care over the past months.

“Furthermore, we thank Jules' colleagues, friends, fans and everyone who has demonstrated their affection for him over these past months, which gave us great strength and helped us deal with such difficult times. Listening to and reading the many messages made us realise just how much Jules had touched the hearts and minds of so many people all over the world”.

Tributes have meanwhile continued to pour-in on social media with Bianchi’s Marussia team, now known as Manor, tweeting, “We are devastated to lose Jules after such a hard-fought battle. It was a privilege to have him race for our team”.

“No words can describe what his family & the sport have lost. All I can say it was a pleasure knowing & racing you. X”, Bianchi’s former Marussia teammate and now Nissan sportscar driver, Max Chilton, tweeted, while current Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo posted two images of him and Bianchi with the words at the bottom reading, “I'll never forget you and the good times we had. Going to miss you bro”.

“RIP Jules Bianchi. It was a pleasure and privilege to have known him in his all too short life. Sad day, condolences to his family + friends,” Sky F1 commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle said.