Philippe Bianchi, father of French driver Jules who was signed to Marussia, said in an interview to French public radio earlier today that he was ‘less optimistic’ about the young driver ever recovering.
25-year-old Bianchi has been unconscious and comatose since October 2014, when he was involved in a serious accident during the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit.
Drivers had been caught in a deluge as Typhoon Phanfone hit the country, and the car driven by Sauber’s Adrian Sutil had spun out of control, crashing at the Dunlop curve. Sutil walked away from that crash with minor injuries. A tractor had been deployed to remove the wreckage of Sutil’s vehicle from the track, and had been in the process of doing so when Bianchi, who did not see the tractor, collided perpendicularly with its rear and spun into the wall at high impact.
At the time of the incident, the exact impact was not known. When Bianchi did not respond to calls from race marshals or team radio relays, and was subsequently discovered to be unconscious. Although arrangements were being made to airlift the driver to the nearest hospital, these plans did not come to fruition, with the chopper unable to take off.
Bianchi was later transported by road to the nearest hospital, and statements were then released revealing he had suffered a ‘traumatic brain injury’. This was revealed later to be one of the most devastating kinds – a ‘diffuse axonal injury’, and Bianchi has been in a coma ever since.
His accident led to the formation of an investigative committee, of which former F1 team principals Ross Brawn and Stefano Domenicali were part. New safety measures became a part of Formula One for the first time after the accident, with the introduction of the Virtual Safety Car.
In a cruel twist of irony, Bianchi had been discussing the accident and head injuries F1 legend Michael Schumacher had suffered in December 2013. Although Schumacher, unlike Bianchi, is conscious and has minimal responses, his day-to-day functioning has been greatly affected and is said to be minimal at best.
"In general, progress needs to be made in the first six months," Bianchi Sr. said."It has been nine months now and Jules has still not woken up." Although Jules was described as ‘medically stable’ whilst still in a coma, his father has described his condition as a ‘daily marathon’ and indicated today that it was worsening, saying in his statement that he was even less optimistic than before.