NICE, France - Critically injured French Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi is no longer in an artificial coma but is still unconscious, his family said in a statement on Wednesday.
GETTING THERE...: F1 driver Jules Bianchi - this was him before his awful crash at Suzuka on Oct 5 2014 - is out of his induced coma. Image AP / Shizuo Kambayashi
Bianchi crashed into a recovery tractor in rain at the 2014 Japanese F1 GP on October 5 and sustained the most serious F1 race injury since Ayrton Senna died in 1994.
He has been transferred from Yokkaichi in Japan to a hospital in Nice, on the French Mediterranean coast.
The statement from his family read: "Almost seven weeks after Jules' accident at Suzuka, and following a challenging period of neurological intensive care, we are able to announce that Jules has made an important step.
"He is no longer in the artificial coma into which he was placed shortly after the accident but is still unconscious. He is breathing unaided and his vital signs are stable but his condition is still classified as 'critical'."
The family said the driver's recovery had entered a new phase concerned with "the improvement of his brain function" and his condition had improved sufficiently for him to be taken home to France. He arrived there yesterday (Nov 19 2014).
PRAISE FOR HOSPITAL
The statement continued: "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 Centre 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." Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.