Manor-Marussia driver Jules Bianchi, who had been comatose since his accident last year at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka has passed away, said his family in a statement today. Philippe Bianchi, the 25-year-old’s father, had said yesterday that he was ‘not hopeful’ of his son’s recovery.
During a rain-lashed Japanese Grand Prix, Bianchi collided with a stationary crane that had been removing the wreckage of Adrian Sutil’s Sauber. Sutil, who had crashed at that same corner only a lap prior, had walked away from that accident with minimal injury. Bianchi, whose vehicle went into the rear of the tractor at full force, had been unresponsive to team radio or calls from race marshals.
It had been decided to airlift Bianchi to the Mie Prefecture hospital at the time, but authorities were unable to do so due to the typhoon moving through Japan at the time. The young Frenchman was transported to the hospital by road, although investigations showed that this did not have any effect on his treatment.
Bianchi was found to have suffered a ‘diffuse axonal injury’, one of the most traumatic brain injuries that can be suffered. His prognosis had been fairly weak at the time, and according to his father, only deteriorated as time progressed. Entirely comatose since that day, Bianchi had been in hospital in Nice, France, where he died a few hours ago.
The official statement from his family:
'It is with deep sadness that the parents of Jules Bianchi, Philippe and Christine, his brother Tom and sister Melanie, wish to make it known that Jules passed away last night at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) in Nice, (France) where he was admitted following the accident of 5th October 2014 at Suzuka Circuit during the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix.
'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.
'We would like to ask that our privacy is respected during this difficult time, while we try to come to terms with the loss of Jules.'
Team Manor, with whom Bianchi had been driving at the time of what would be his final race, tweeted about his passing
We are devastated to lose Jules after such a hard-fought battle. It was a privilege to have him race for our team. https://t.co/USrDQbG7fZ— Manor F1 Team (@ManorF1Team) July 18, 2015