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Sochi GP: Marussia to replace Bianchi?

2014-10-10 07:52

STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE: Marussia reserve, Alexander Rossi (pictured here), could replace injured Jules Bianchi at the 2014 Russian GP. Image: Alexanderrossi.com


SOCHI, Russia - Marussia has entered Alexander Rossi to replace its critically injured driver Jules Bianchi at the inaugural 2014 Russian GP but the rookie's participations is still not certain.

The official list of cars and drivers published by stewards on Thursday (Oct 9) named Rossi and Max Chilton as Marussia's entrants.

There was no official statement from Marussia but sources made clear a decision had yet to be taken about how to proceed out of respect for Bianchi's family and a desire to "do the right thing"' for their stricken team mate.


Bianchi suffered a brain injury but remains "critical but stable" in a Japanese hospital after his horrific crash during the 2014 Japanese GP at Suzuka on October 5. There has been no medical update since October 7; the crash, when his car aquaplaned off the wet circuit, in fading light, and into a tractor that was recovering a crashed Sauber happened two days earlier.

Marussia, a small and financially struggling team which has punched above its weight s0o far in 2014 thanks to Bianchi, was expected to wait until Friday morning to confirm how it planned to proceed. Putting down Rossi's name fulfills the regulations but there is a strong chance Chilton will be the team's only entrant in what should have been a big moment for the sport's only Russian-registered team on Russia's F1 debut.

Although the rules stipulate that a constructor must "participate" in every event as a team, the act of entering two cars for official scrutineering has satisfied that already.

Marussia can also count on the full support of the powers-that-be for whatever they decide to do.


Marussia's standing, ninth in the championship, is due to Bianchi's points finish at the 2014 Monaco GP in May, has been overwhelmed by a groundswell of support from the rest of the paddock and wider world.

Formula 1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has kept in regular touch, offering whatever support may be needed, while Ingternational Automobile Federation president Jean Todt is in close contact through his son Nicolas, Bianchi's manager.

Ferrari, for which Bianchi was a test driver being groomed for a stellar future, arranged for a leading Italian neuro-surgeon to fly to Japan along with the French professor who attended to seven-times F1 champion Michael Schumacher after his skiing fall in 2013.


Bianchi's name was alongside Chilton's above the team's garage on Thursday (Oct 9) and will stay there, with mechanics going through the normal procedures of setting up both cars. However the team's British principal, John Booth, has stayed behind in Japan to be with Bianchi's family at the Yokkaichi hospital.

The shock of the crash hung heavy over the paddock on Thursday, with drivers still stunned by what had happened and expressing support for their colleague. Each will race on Sunday with a helmet sticker saying 'Tous avec Jules #17' (All with Jules), a reference to the 25-year-old's driver number.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso said: "Our thoughts are with Jules. All of our minds are there. Emotionally very difficult. Ready to race, to race for him, being as professional as we can but definitely our minds, or my mind, is with him in this moment, praying for him."

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