It is with the utmost sadness and grief that we must relay the news of the passing of Jules Bianchi, the former Marussia F1 Team driver and test driver for Scuderia Ferrari, at the age of 25.
The announcement was made by the family of Jules Bianchi at 02:45 local time in Nice, France, where Bianchi had spent the last nine months in a coma after a crash at the Japanese Grand Prix in October left the French driver with severe head injuries.
The statement, in full:
A Statement from the Bianchi Family
Saturday 18 July 2015
02.45hrs France │ 01.45hrs UK
It is with deep sadness that the parents of Jules Bianchi, Philippe and Christine, his brother Tom and sister Mélanie, wish to make it known that Jules passed away last night at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) in Nice, (France) where he was admitted following the accident of 5th October 2014 at Suzuka Circuit during the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix.
“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. We wish to thank the medical staff at Nice’s CHU who looked after him with love and dedication. We also thank the staff of the General Medical Center in the Mie Prefecture (Japan) who looked after Jules immediately after the accident, as well as all the other doctors who have been involved with his care over the past months.
"Furthermore, 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.
"We would like to ask that our privacy is respected during this difficult time, while we try to come to terms with the loss of Jules.”
The grand-nephew of 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Lucien Bianchi, Jules Bianchi's racing career began with immediate success in the ladder to Formula 1. In his first single-seater season, Bianchi became the Formula Renault 2.0 champion of France. Two years later, he dominated the Formula 3 Euro Series, cementing his place as a driver to watch in the years to come. In 2010, he became the centerpiece of the newly-created Ferrari Driver Academy, an organization established by Scuderia Ferrari to promote and develop young drivers seeking to reach Formula 1.
Through hardship and adversity that included a back injury and bad luck in two seasons in the GP2 Series from 2010-11, to a narrow and bitter loss in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series championship in 2012, Bianchi made it to Formula 1 in 2013 thanks to an eleventh-hour deal for Marussia, immediately elevating the backmarker team's on-track form, and capturing the imagination of the racing world in doing so.
There was no greater example of this than in the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix. In a race filled with attrition, Bianchi used every ounce of his driving ability to beat the odds, powering through as the front-runners ahead of him continuously faltered, and despite a time penalty incurred during the race, he would hold on to finish ninth, capturing the first two World Championship points of his career, and the first for his Marussia team after four dismal campaigns.
Bianchi appeared in 34 Formula 1 Grands Prix from 2013 to 2014, all with the Marussia team. On the eve of that fateful race in Suzuka, he had signed a contract to race for Sauber F1 Team from the 2015 season.
There is a great and frightening void left in the world of motorsport today, one which will never be filled. Fans have lost a favorite driver. Fellow drivers have lost a dear friend. And most importantly, and indeed most heartbreaking of all, a family has lost a beloved son and a brother.
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