Formula 1

FIA to retire number 17 from Formula 1

2014 Monaco Grand Prix

As a mark of respect to the late Jules Bianchi the FIA has retired his racing number 17 from Formula 1. The FIA’s brief statement follows:

20.07.15 – Jean Todt, President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) announced that the car number 17 will be retired from the FIA Formula One World Championship in honour of Jules Bianchi.

As F1 car numbers are now personally chosen by each driver, the FIA believes it to be an appropriate gesture to retire Jules Bianchi’s number 17.

As a result, this number can no longer be used for a car competing in the FIA Formula One World Championship.

Formula 1 News

Jules Bianchi 1989–2015

Jules Bianchi

French Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi passed away today, finally succumbing to the severe head injuries he suffered after crashing at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. He was 25-years-old.

The news was confirmed in a statement published to Facebook by the Bianchi family. Word of Bianchi’s death comes just days after Jules’ father, Phillipe, spoke on French radio and said there had been “no significant progress” in his recovery.

It’s 285 days since Bianchi’s accident and, sadly, any hopes of a recovery had long since past. It is a desperately sad situation and we pass on our condolences to his family and friends.

May he rest in peace.

Formula 1 News

Philippe Bianchi: “There is no significant progress”

Jules Bianchi

The father of Jules Bianchi spoke to a French radio station recently and said there has been “no significant progress” in his son’s recovery from the injuries suffered in his accident at the Japanese Grand Prix last October.

“In general, progress needs to be made in the first six months,” Philippe Bianchi said in an interview with radio station France Infos. “And now it’s been nine months and Jules has still not woken up and there is no significant progress.

“As time goes by, it makes me less optimistic than I might have been two or three months after the accident when one might have hoped for a better outcome.”

Following Michael Schumacher‘s skiing accident, which left the seven-time world champion in a coma, Philippe Bianchi also revealed his son had spoken about what he might want if he was ever in a similar situation.

“We talked about it,” Philippe Bianchi said. “He told us that if one day he had an accident like Michael Schumacher’s, even if his only handicap was not being able to drive, he would have a lot of difficulty living with it. Because it was his life.”

[Source: Reuters]

Formula 1 News

“We have to be strong, like Jules”

Jules Bianchi

Philippe Bianchi, father of Jules, has recently spoken to Italian media about his son’s condition. Unfortunately, and usurprisingly, it’s not terribly encouraging news.

“Jules is still in a coma. As long as he does not wake up, the only thing we can do is wait,” Philippe Bianchi told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“It takes patience, a lot of patience, but it is difficult to know that at any moment a terrible call could be coming from the hospital.

“We have to be strong, like Jules and for Jules.

“As long as he is in this state, the doctors cannot say anything. He might wake up or he might not.

“I think he will, as he has not fought with us this long for nothing.”


Formula 1 News

Update on Jules Bianchi

Jules Bianchi, Marussia F1 Team

In a recent update the family of Jules Bianchi confirmed he remains unconscious but continues to fight. He has been moved from intensive care and has commenced a program of rehabilition therapy.

“It was a significant and very comforting step for us to be able to bring Jules home to France last month, to continue his rehabilitation surrounded by his family and friends. This is very important for Jules and also for us,” Bianchi’s family said in a prepared statement.

“Jules’ neurological status remains unchanged; he is unconscious but able to breathe unaided. Whilst there is no significant information to report, we take a great deal of comfort from the fact that Jules continues to fight, as we knew he would.”

Bianchi was originally relocated from Japan to the Intensive Care Unit of Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU) in November last year and is now receicing treatment at CHU’s rehabilitation centre.

[Source: Reuters]

Formula 1

FIA report: “Bianchi did not slow sufficiently”

Jules Bianchi, Marussia, 2014 Japanese GP

A 396 page report into the Jules Bianchi accident at the Japanese Grand Prix has been presented to the FIA World Motorsport Council and makes several recommendations to be applied to all international circuit racing.

A summary of the report published by the FIA states: “Bianchi did not slow sufficiently to avoid losing control at the same point on the track as Sutil.

“If drivers adhere to the requirements of double yellow flags, as set out in Appendix H, Art., then neither competitors nor officials should be put in immediate or physical danger.

“Bianchi over-controlled the oversteering car, such that he left the track earlier than Sutil, and headed towards a point ‘up-stream’ along the barrier. Unfortunately, the mobile crane was in front of this part of the barrier, and he struck and under-ran the rear of it at high speed.”

Seven recommendations have been made by the specially convened Accident Panel tasked with investigating the crash. Included on the 10-member panel were former team principal Ross Brawn, Stefano Domenicali and former drivers Emerson Fittipaldi and Alex Wurz.

The panel’s recommendations include the adoption of yellow flag speed limits, a review of track drainage guidelines, a call for Super Licence qualification to incorporate a course on FIA safety procedures, increased testing of wet weather tyres and an overall review into the risks associated with Formula 1.

[Source: FIA | Thanks to Stu for the tip]

Formula 1

Jules Bianchi out of induced coma, remains critical

Jules Bianchi

The family of former Marussia driver Jules Bianchi, who was seriously injured at the Japanese Grand Prix, has confirmed he is no longer in an artifical coma. However, he remains unconscious and his condition is still critical.

“Jules is no longer in the artificial coma in which he was placed shortly after the accident, however he is still unconscious,” the family’s statement explained. “He is breathing unaided and his vital signs are stable, but his condition is still classified as ‘critical’. His treatment now enters a new phase concerned with the improvement of his brain function.”

Bianchi has been relocated from Japan to the university hospital in Nice so that he can be closer to his family.

“Jules’ neurological condition remains stable,” his family added. “Although the situation continues to be serious, and may remain so, it was decided that Jules was sufficiently stable to be repatriated to his native France.

“We are relieved, therefore, to confirm that Jules was transferred aeromedically last night from the Mie Prefectural General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, Japan, to Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU), where he arrived just a short time ago.

“Jules is now in the intensive care unit of Professors Raucoules and Ichai, where his care will also be monitored by Professor Paquis, Head of Neurosurgery Service.

“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.”

The Bianchi family thanked the hospital staff in Japan, in particular Doctors Kamei and Yamamichi, and Mr Ogura, saying Jules received “outstanding care” while in Yokkaichi.


Formula 1

Marussia F1 Team closes its doors

2014 Belgian Grand Prix

The Marussia F1 Team has been shut down and will not race again this year or in 2015. Administrators FRP Advisory LLP were unable to find a buyer for the team and as a result all staff have been made redundant.

“It goes without saying that it is deeply regrettable that a business with such a great following in British and world motorsport has had to cease trading and close its doors,” wrote Geoff Rowley from FRP.

“The group was put into administration last month following a shortfall in ongoing funding and the administration process provided a moratorium to allow for attempts to secure a long term viable solution for the company within in a very limited timeframe.

“Sadly no solution could be achieved to allow for the business to continue in its current form. We would like to thank all the staff for their support during this difficult process.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber Team Principal, has her own financial pressures to deal with, having recently threatened to boycott the United States Grand Prix and then selling its 2015 driver lineup to the highest bidders.

Commenting on the demise of Marussia, Kaltenborn said: “We have a turnover of billions of dollars and yet we are not in a position to keep 11 teams alive.

“And that tells you it is not a good signal the sport is sending out and we are creating a bad image.

“So you have to look at how the revenues are distributed and you have to find a way to reduce the costs.”

After the US GP Donald MacKenzie, co-chairman of F1’s largest shareholder CVC Capital Partners, said he was prepared to act above Bernie Eccelstone and take measures to improve the plight of the struggling teams.

[Source: Autosport & BBC]

Formula 1

Marussia reacts to Bianchi crash allegations

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

Apparently there have been reports in the media hinting at negligence from both Jules Bianchi and the Marussia F1 Team in the immediate moments prior to Bianchi’s life-threatening crash.

The allegations are twofold, first that Bianchi did not slow down under the double waved yellow flags where Adrian Sutil’s car was being retrieved and secondly, that Marussia was urging Bianchi to keep going fast in order to keep the Caterham of Marcus Ericsson behind him.

As you might expect Marussia is upset at these claims and reacted by issuing an official statement which it hopes will set the record straight.

“The Marussia F1 Team is shocked and angered by these allegations,” the statement reads. “It is distressed to have to respond to deeply upsetting rumours and inaccuracies in respect of the circumstances of Jules’ accident. However, given that these allegations are entirely false, the team has no alternative but to address these.

“Regarding point 1, Jules did slow down under the double waved yellow flags. That is an irrefutable fact, as proven by the telemetry data, which the team has provided to the FIA.

“Regarding point 2, an audio copy of the full radio transmission between Jules and the team, and also a written transcript thereof, were provided to the FIA. It is quite clear from the transmission and the transcript that at no point during the period leading up to Jules’ accident did the team urge Jules to drive faster or make any comments suggesting that he should do so.”

Late last week Charlie Whiting, FIA F1 race director, gave a media briefing addressing Bianchi’s accident. He covered a number of topics, including the start time of the race, the use of the Safety Car, the actions of the flag marshals and more. Crucially, he also addressed the question of Bianchi’s speed during the double waved yellows.

“I know what speed he left the track at,” Whiting said. “A lot of cars came through the double waved yellow sector, not everyone slowed down as much.

“There were some that didn’t slow down much and some slowed down a lot—and I don’t think we need to go into the detail of how much he slowed down relative to the others.

“Suffice to say, we do have that data. He did slow down and it is a matter of degree.”

You can read Marussia’s full reaction after the break.

Formula 1

Marussia to rest Bianchi’s car in Sochi

2014 Belgian Grand Prix

The Marussia F1 Team has decided to run one car only at its home grand prix in Sochi this weekend as a mark of respect to Jules Bianchi.

“We have written to the Stewards of the Meeting to inform them that we have withdrawn our second car,” reads an official team statement. “Notwithstanding the presence in Sochi of Alexander Rossi, the nominated Official Reserve Driver for the 2014 Russian Grand Prix, the Team feels strongly that fielding a single car, that of driver number 4, Max Chilton, is the appropriate course of action under the difficult circumstances of the weekend.”

In a touching gesture, the team has prepared a car for Bianchi, which will remain in the garage.

“Jules’ car crew have built a second car, which has been scrutineered and is ready to race, and this will remain on his side of the garage throughout the weekend. In support of Jules and his family, the Team and its cars will carry the familiar #JB17 graphic, to ensure that, although Jules is not with us in Sochi this weekend, he is, nonetheless, racing on with the Marussia F1 Team.”

Also nice to see is Max Chilton’s words, where perhaps being in a less competitive team affords intra-garage rivalries to be more friendly.

“I don’t know how to put into words how truly devastated I am by what has happened to Jules,” Chilton said. “The support from the F1 family has been incredible and all we can do is be there to support Jules’ family at this difficult time. It is going to be a very emotional weekend for the whole Team, but we will try to get through it and keep praying for Jules.”

[Source: Marussa F1 Team]

Formula 1

A statement from the family of Jules Bianchi

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

Jules Bianchi is currently in a “critical but stable condition” according to a statement released by his family via the Marussia website. You can read the full text after the break, but the key information is shown below:

“This is a very difficult time for our family, but the messages of support and affection for Jules from all over the world have been a source of great comfort to us. We would like to express our sincere appreciation.

“Jules remains in the Intensive Care Unit of the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi. He has 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.”

We’re not medial experts but a quick search on the term “diffuse axonal injury” leaves us very concerned for Jules. We pray that he may make a full recovery.

Formula 1 Mercedes-Benz Red Bull Racing

Lewis Hamilton wins 2014 Japanese GP

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton won a rain-affected Japanese Grand Prix yesterday, his third win on end and eighth for the year. But the day will be remembered more for its wet weather and the race-ending crash involving Jules Bianchi.

With heavy rain falling at the scheduled start time the race began behind the Safety Car. With no immediate sign of relief the cars were brought into pit lane on Lap 2 and the race was red flagged. Following a 25 minute delay the race restarted behind the Safety Car, which stayed out until Lap 9. Conditions had improved quite a lot and Rosberg was finally able to lead the field under green flag conditions from pole.

Jenson Button followed the Safety Car into the pits to take a risk by being the first driver to switch from full wets to intermediate tyres. That move paid immediate dividends as the inters proved to be the quicker tyre and all drivers came in for new rubber. This allowed Button to elevate himself up the field to P3 after starting eighth.

The race settled into a rhythm and the Mercedes AMG pair set off building a gap on the rest of the field. Hamilton had better race pace than Rosberg and after almost 20 laps behind his championship rival he was able to maintain grip on his tyres for longer and find his way into the lead.

Red Bull’s decision to sacrifice straight line pace during the sunny qualifying conditions was paying off as both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo were able to use their increased downforce and subsequent grip to manufacture some entertaining overtaking moves.

As the race passed Lap 40, the mark needed to be considered for full championship points, rain had been falling for a few minutes and Kevin Magnussen came in for extreme wet tyres. Although, most drivers who did come in for new tyres remained on inters.

Adrian Sutil crashed out at turn 7, which became the precursor for Bianchi’s incident. The race finished four laps later behind the Safety Car with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg heading the field. Ricciardo had moved into P3 ahead of Vettel on track by choosing not to pit for new tyres, but once the race was stopped and positions were taken from the previous full lap Vettel reinherited the final podium position.

Celebrations were understandably subdued on the podium as word of Bianchi’s injury filtered through the paddock. Our thoughts remain with the young Frenchman and the Marussia team. It’s the worst possible build up they could have imagined as F1 prepares for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in Sochi next weekend.