Jules Bianchi was a race car driver from a family of race car drivers. His grandfather, Mauro Bianchi, was a GT racer in the 1960s and his great uncle Lucien raced in Formula One and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1968. Jules was looking to follow in his family tradition until events from nine months ago would end his life at the age of 25. Gone too soon, Jules Bianchi died on July 17.
Born in Nice, Bianchi went through the Karting circuit before racing with SG Formula in French Formula Renault. He quickly moved into Formula 3 in 2007 a couple years later became a Formula One driver. He played a back seat for Ferrari as a backup driver, then was loaned to Force India’s team as a reserve and test driver in 2012.
The Marussia race team brought Bianchi in to replace Luiz Razia in 2013 and the young racer was now a Formula One driver. He was confirmed by the team to be one of their guys for the 2014 season, however, his season would come to a devastating halt.
On Sunday, October 5, 2014, rain was falling on the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Typhoon Phanfone was approaching. Many spinouts and accidents occurred during the race, but tragedy fell on lap 43. While a car that had gone off course was being removed by a tractor from turn seven. Bianchi lost control and crashed into the tractor. He was unconscious and due to the Typhoon, could not be airlifted. He was treated at trackside before being taken by ambulance to the course Medical Center. He was then driven 32 minutes to the hospital.
Bianchi had severe injuries to his head, however, he was in a coma. His condition was stable enough that he was transported from Japan to University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland. Eventually, Bianchi was taken home to Nice and was being treated at a hospital there, however, he was still in a coma from the accident.
The injuries Bianchi sustained were too severe and nine months after the accident the family released a statement, according to The Telegraph, that Jules had passed away. And while his death at 25 years old is tragic, Bianchi has made the sport safer for his fellow racers.
The Guardian reported that just hours after the accident, Formula One officials were meeting to discuss how to prevent an accident like this from happening again. The Virtual Safety Car (VSC) made its debut just a month later. The VSC basically puts the cars into a holding pattern, keeping them at a slow, safe speed.
MotorSport reported that Bianchi’s former teammate at the Marussia F1 team and now Indy Lights driver for Carlin, Max Chilton honored the loss of his friend with the pole position in Saturday’s race. He knew Bianchi since they were 11 or 12 years of age, and he said that from that age on, Jules was a determined professional. Chilton knew early on that his friend was destined to be a great racer.
Jules Bianchi may be gone too soon, but he will not be forgotten. Formula One is safer because of the 25-year-old. While accidents happen and will continue to happen, the tragic loss of his life may help keep future racers from seeing a similar fate.
By Cletus Dillwood