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Jules Bianchi, 1989-2015

18 Jul 2015

French driver Jules Bianchi has passed away after succumbing to the injuries he sustained in a crash at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Bianchi, 25, had been in a coma since last October after his Marussia collided with a recovery vehicle in wet conditions during the closing stages of the Suzuka race.

“Jules fought right to the very end, as he always did, but today his battle came to an end,” said the Bianchi family. “The pain we feel is immense and indescribable."

Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One group CEO, stated: "It was so sad to hear the news about Jules. We are now going to miss a very talented driver and a really nice person. We must not let this ever happen again."

A member of Ferrari’s young driver academy, Bianchi’s skills were highly regarded. A former Formula Renault and F3 Euro champion, he tested with the Italian team, as well as Force India and Marussia. He was also a race winner in the GP2 Series before progressing to the F1 grid in 2013.

The highlight of his Formula One career came at last year’s Monaco Grand Prix, where Bianchi scored his and the fledgling Marussia team’s first championship points with a hard-fought ninth-place finish.

“Words cannot describe the enormous sadness within our team this morning, as we come to terms with losing Jules," said Marussia team principal John Booth. "He has left an indelible mark on all our lives, and will forever be part of everything we have achieved, and everything we will strive for going forward.

“Jules was a shining talent. He was destined for great things in our sport; success he so richly deserved. He was also a magnificent human being, making a lasting impression on countless people all over the world. They recognised, as did we, that at the same time as being a fiercely motivated racer, he was also an extremely warm, humble and intensely likeable person, who lit up our garage and our lives."

Bianchi died in hospital near his family’s French home in Nice, where he was transferred from Japan last November. The family expressed their gratitude to doctors in both countries, as well as paying tribute to all those who had lent their support from afar.

“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.”

Bianchi sustained serious head injuries in the Suzuka accident, which occurred in heavy rain under yellow-flag conditions. As marshals were working to recover the damaged Sauber of Adrian Sutil, who had crashed out a lap earlier, Bianchi lost control of his car, travelled across the run-off area and hit the back of the recovery vehicle.

Following news of his passing, the motorsport world has been united in paying tribute to their former colleague via social media.

"No words can describe what his family and the sport have lost,” said Bianchi’s 2014 team mate Max Chilton. “All I can say it was a pleasure knowing and racing you."

Fellow Frenchman and Lotus F1 driver Romain Grosjean stated: "Yesterday we lost one of the best guys and best drivers I've ever met. I'll miss you so much my friend..."

McLaren’s Jenson Button said: "Last night we lost a truly great guy and a real fighter. RIP Jules. My sincerest condolences to his family and friends."

Bianchi is survived by parents Philippe and Christine, brother Tom and sister Melanie. The family have asked that their privacy is respected during this difficult time, while they try to come to terms with their loss.