July 18, 2015

Jules Bianchi 1989 - 2015

Somewhat inevitable news from the Formula 1 community as Jules Bianchi, driver for Marussia last year, passed away at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Nice, France, today.  He was 25. 

As we all remember, he suffered massive head trauma in his terrible accident at Suzuka this past October.  He never regained consciousness after the crash.  In the months that followed, there had been some positive signs: taken off the respirator, breathing on his own, squeezing of hands, that sort of thing, but even the most optimistic thoughts on his recovery made for grim reading.

He was a better driver than the car he was given.  After being a karting champion, he won the French Formula Renault series in 2007, finished third in Formula 3 Euroseries in 2008, and in 2009 won nine out of 20 races to take the F3 championship.  When Felipe Massa had his accident, Ferrari considered having him fill the seat; instead, he wound up signing with their Young Drivers program and became a test driver.  In 2010 and 2011, Bianchi would finish third in GP2, while in 2012 he got his break in F1 as a Friday driver for Force India.  In 2013, Marussia picked him up and gave him a drive, for which act he repaid them with a 13th place finish that secured the team a 10th place finish in the Constructor's Championship and the prize money that came with it.
It was in 2014, however, that Bianchi showed his talent level.  Taking a lackluster car from 19th on the grid at Monaco, he wound up surviving the twisty, narrow streets and despite a penalty, finshed eighth.  Alas, another penalty wound up dropping him to ninth.  Either way, he still managed to do something nobody else had managed or has yet to duplicate: score points for Marussia.  These points would ultimately provide the team with enough prize money to continue into 2015.  Drivers that score points for backmarkers usually turn out to be something special, and there's no question that Jules Bianchi was destined to drive for Ferrari, possibly as soon as 2016.  Instead, he becomes the first Formula 1 driver to die from race-related injuries since Ayrton Senna in 1994.

We here at Wonderduck's Pond send our condolences to the Bianchi family, his friends, and the F1 paddock as a whole.  Next week's race in Hungary should be a somber one, to say the least.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 06:09 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 Looking back on it, I find myself wondering why there wasn't a yellow flag while that tractor was picking up the other car.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 18, 2015 06:34 PM (+rSRq)

2 There were. 

In fact, that sector of the track was under waved double-yellow flags, which means that the track may be blocked, marshals may be on track, and the racers must be prepared to stop.

The next step from double-yellow in 2014 was a safety car.  Because of this incident, F1 has implemented the Virtual Safety Car, which comes out when there are recovery vehicles or track workers anywhere out from behind the walls.

Posted by: Wonderduck at July 18, 2015 06:52 PM (jGQR+)

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