The entire world of motorsports is in mourning today, as young Formula One driver Jules Bianchi passed away last night from injuries sustained at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix. Here are some of the condolences and memories shared by friends, competitors and other figures in motorsport.
Bianchi is the first grand prix fatality in the sport since Ayrton Senna’s death in 1994, a full 21 years ago. The Frenchman suffered a diffuse axonal head injury after striking a recovery tractor under extremely wet conditions.
Often soft-spoken and shy, Bianchi was well regarded in the paddock as an up and coming driver who preferred to let his driving do the talking.
Bianchi’s team Manor Marussia and teammate Max Chilton were posted their regards on Twitter yesterday. Manor Marussia team principal John Booth has since released a longer statement on their Facebook page, expressing the profound effect Jules had on the team:
Words cannot describe the enormous sadness within our team this morning, as we come to terms with losing Jules. 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.
We are incredibly grateful that we were able to provide Jules with the opportunity to show the world what he could do in a Formula 1 car. We knew we had a very special driver on our hands from the first time he drove our car in pre-season testing in 2013. It has been an honour to be able to consider him our race driver, our team-mate, and of course our friend.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the wonderful Bianchi family, who have remained so strong for Jules throughout the past nine months. In turn, Jules was an absolute credit to them.
Finally, we would like to thank everyone who has supported Jules since his accident in Japan last October. Your kindness has been such a source of comfort to his family and to us, his team. We will rely on your continued support over the coming days and months as we race on for Jules.
Others who raced with or worked with Bianchi, ranging from track personnel to broadcasters and competitors also expressed their condolences.
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, which governs the Formula One series, released this statement this morning:
The sport has lost one of the most talented drivers of this generation, from a family that has such a strong presence in the history of the sport.
Jules Bianchi was a popular personality in F1, possessing the best of both human and sporting qualities.
The FIA recognises the courage with which he conducted his last fight, in the company of his loving family.
Jean Todt , FIA President, expressed his deepest condolences to Jules’ family and recognised the great pain being felt by the Bianchi family and those close to them.
The motor sport community offers their most sincere support through this terrible ordeal.
Other motorsports organizations, teams and drivers also gave their condolences.
World Endurance Championship CEO Gérard Neveu released a statement on behalf of the FIA’s top-level endurance series this morning:
The announcement today of the passing of Jules Bianchi has made the WEC paddock really sad.
Jules was a great motor racing driver and he is going to leave behind a huge void. The whole WEC family shares the grief of his family and those close to Jules. We send our sincere condolences.
There will always be a place for Jules in our memories and in our hearts.
On behalf of the WEC Family
Likewise, the Automobile Club l’Ouest expressed their condolences for the loss of an upcoming French driver:
It is with great sadness that the Automobile Club de l’Ouest was informed this morning of the passing of Jules Bianchi, occurred on Friday July 17, as a result of the accident he suffered from last October 5 at the F1 Grand Prix of Japan.
Jules Bianchi was one of the surest hopes of French motorsport. Titled Formula Renault in his first season, he pursued a methodical climb in motorsport with the support of Ferrari, before being tenured in Formula 1 with Marussia in 2013.
Jules Bianchi came from a long line of drivers. His great-uncle Lucien (1934-1969), endurance specialist and major road marathons in the sixties (victories in Liège-Sofia-Liège and the Tour de France Automobile), won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1968 driving a Ford GT40, associated with the Mexican Pedro Rodriguez. His grandfather Mauro (born in 1937) was for the same period a brilliant animator of Formula 3 pack, and also Alpine official driver in La Sarthe.
To his family and loved ones, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest sends its deepest condolences.
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “It is with great sadness and deep emotion that we learned this morning the sad news of the death of Jules Bianchi. On behalf of the ACO and all employees, I present my condolences to the family and friends of Jules. He is part of the great family of motorsports and by his talent and his courage, he has earned the recognition of his peers and all fans of the discipline.”
Here are more of the others from around the world who have been deeply saddened by the news of Jules’ passing:
Our thoughts remain with Bianchi’s family, friends and fans everywhere.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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