NOT FORGOTTEN: Marussia driver Jules Bianchi shortly before the fateful accident in Japan. He died in France nine months later. Image: Facebook
NICE, France - French Formula 1
driver Jules Bianchi has nine months after sustaining critical head injuries in
a horror crash at the 2014 Japanese F1 GP.
He was 25.
Bianchi had been in a coma since the
crash at Suzuka last October. He died in a hospital here in Nice, not far from
his parents' home in the south of France.
FIRST DEATH SINCE SENNA
A statement from the family read: "Jules
fought right to the very end, as he always did, but today his battle came to an
"The pain we feel is immense
Bianchi was the first driver since
Brazilian three-times F1 champion Ayrton Senna, killed at Italy's Imola circuit
in May 1994, to die from injuries sustained during a GP weekend. His racing
team, Manor, said:
"We are devastated to lose
Jules after such a hard-fought battle. It was a privilege to have him race for
The Frenchman suffered severe head
injuries when, in rain and fading light, his Marussia car slammed under a
recovery tractor while it was attempting to remove Adrian Sutil's crashed
Television images of the October 5
accident, which were not publicly broadcast but have since been posted on the
internet, showed the Marussia's roll hoop had been ripped off in the terrifying
The race was stopped and the
unconscious driver was extracted from the wrecked car and taken by road
ambulance to a nearby hospital.
Bianchi, who was also contracted to
Ferrari and was considered to have a bright future in the sport, was initially
treated in the Mie General Medical Centre in Yokkaichi.
His parents and siblings flew out
from France and were a constant presence at his bedside, hoping against hope
for a miracle.
'HEARTS AND MINDS'
An International Automobile Federation
report said in December that the Frenchman had not slowed sufficiently under
warning flags before crashing.
The report found that Bianchi's car
hit the tractor at 126km/h and said medical services were not at fault in their
handling of the aftermath.
His family praised medical staff in
Nice and Mie Prefecture for their care over the last nine months and asked for
privacy as they sought to come to terms with the loss.
The statement added: "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.
"We would like to ask that our
privacy be respected during this difficult time while we try to come to terms
with the loss of Jules."
'HARD TO GET UP'
Bianchi's father, Philippe, had told
French radio earlier this month that
he was "less optimistic" of a recovery. In May he said they had been preparing for the worst.
"It's hard to get up in the
morning while telling yourself that you're not sure whether your son is going
to live and every day is like that," he said then.Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Formula 1 season. Fresh reports every day.