SUDDEN IMPACT: This freeze-frame from the video of Jules Bianchi's crash into a recovery tractor shows the severity of the impact. Image: YouTube
YOKKAICHI, Japan - French Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi, severely injured in an horrific crash during the 2014 Japanese Formula 1 GP on Sunday (Oct 5), remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital here.
Bianchi, 25, incurred a traumatic brain injury when his F1 race car ran off the track in rain and underneath a heavy vehicle-recovery tractor with an impact so severe it lifted the huge machine off the ground.
The tractor was there to remove another car, a Sauber driven by Adrian Sutil, out of harm’s way after it too slid off the track and hit the tyre wall sideways towards the end of the race.
CRITICAL BUT STABLE
That was the information contained in a joint statement from Bianchi’s family and the hospital on Tuesday (Oct 7) night (Japan time).
VIDEO: Watch the Bianchi crash
The statement, distributed by his Marussia team F1 team from the Intensive Care Unit of the Mie General Medical Centre in Yokkaichi. , added:
"Jules suffered a diffuse axonal injury and is in a critical but stable condition. The medical professionals at the hospital are providing the very best treatment and care and we are grateful for everything they have done for Jules since his accident."
Read what the Melbourne Age, which is closer to Japan's time zone, had to say about the crash and Jules Bianchi's injuries: FIA lanches urgent investigation into Jules Bianchi crash
Such injuries, according to Wikipedia, when severe, result in 90% of patients never regaining consciousness. Those who do overcome the coma "often remain significantly impaired". "It is one of the most common, but devastating, types of traumatic brain injury."
Bianchi was taken unconscious by road ambulance to the nearest hospital and immediately underwent emergency brain surgery with doctors saying he was critically hurt.
MEDICAL EXPERTS FLOWN IN
His parents, Philippe and Christine, flew to Japan to be at his bedside and were joined there on Tuesday by celebrated French surgeon Gerard Saillant, the man who treated Michael Schumacher after his near-fatal skiing accident in December 2013, and Professor Alessandro Frati, a neurosurgeon from the University of Rome La Sapienza who went to Japan at the request of Scuderia Ferrari.
The statement added: "They arrived at the hospital today and met the medical personnel responsible for Jules' treatment to be fully informed of his clinical status so that they are able to advise the family.
"The hospital will continue to monitor and treat Jules and further medical updates will be provided when appropriate."
The race was stopped soon after Bianchi's crash. Drivers’ championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who was leading at the time, was declared the winner.
The race organisers have come in for serious criticism over the timing of the race, which went ahead despite torrential downpours caused by an approaching typhoon. Drivers repeatedly complained that they could not see properly because of the spray and the fading light.
IMPACT AT HELMET HEIGHT
Horrifying footage, meanwhile, has emerged showing the moment Bianchi's speeding car smashed into the stationary tractor-crane.
A video, posted by a spectator on YouTube, shows his out-of-control Marussia slamming into the yellow vehicle, sparks flying as the body of the car slid underneath its raised rear.
The impact, which appeared to be at around Bianchi's helmet height, sheared the air intake cover that hangs over the back of the driver's head.
F1 has regularly been rocked by debate over open-top cockpits, which offer drivers little head protection. In slow-motion, the video appears to show Bianchi's helmet rebounding violently off the heavy lifting vehicle, which was bounced into the air by the force of the impact.
Criticism of the organisers became more intense when former F1 champion Alain Prost criticised the errors that led to the crash. He told Europe 1 radio that the truck should never have been where it was.
'WHO MADE THE MISTAKE?'
"The entry of this crane (on to the circuit) without the pace car is totally unacceptable. It's a real mistake that should not be repeated,” Prost emphasised. "A mistake has been made, that's obvious.
“Who made the mistake? I'm still not entirely sure. Was it the race director or the marshals on those bends? Someone must have made the decision to remove Sutil's car."
Prost, after watching a recording of the race, said it was clear that things happened which should not have.