Formula 1

Legal action to be taken against F1, FIA and Marussia by family of Jules Bianchi

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Credit: Octane Photographic

After considering the best course of action for many months, the family of Jules Bianchi have confirmed they are taking legal action over the death of their son following the injuries he sustained at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, against the FIA, the Formula One Group and the Marussia F1 team.

Bianchi finally succumbed to his injuries last July, nine months after the horrific crash at Suzuka, when he skidded off the rain drenched track in Japan and hit a mobile crane that was still on circuit dealing with the removal of Adrian Sutil’s Sauber from an incident the lap before, at high speed. The impact was so severe that the Frenchman remained in a coma until his final days.

At the time many questioned why the recovery vehicle used to remove German’s car had been on the inside of the track, when the majority of other circuits complete the removal of stranded cars from behind the barriers. The use of yellow flags was also investigated, as they had been deployed during Bianchi’s fateful lap, had he noticed them and slowed down for them in time, was also a question that needed answering.

The concluding FIA report deemed the Frenchman had not slowed sufficiently under warning flags before crashing into the tractor at 126 kph, an accusation Bianchi’s father has been unhappy about for some time. The Report also said that medical services were not at fault in their handling of the aftermath.

Although F1 chiefs were cleared of any blame over the incident, following that FIA investigation and subsequent issue of report findings, Bianchi’s family do not agree that is really the case, believing that big mistakes were indeed made on that day.

Speaking to Bianchi’s father Philippe confirmed their reasoning.

“We seek justice for Jules, and want to establish the truth about the decisions that led to our son’s crash at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2014.

“As a family, we have so many unanswered questions and feel that Jules’ accident and death could have been avoided if a series of mistakes had not been made.”

Pre-action letters of claims, which outline the families’ reasons for filing a case, have been sent to the FIA, Marussia and the Formula One Group of companies by the Bianchi families’ legal team – Stewart’s Law. Partner Julian Chamberlayne summarised the decision, that is predominantly based on how the family believe their son’s death could have been avoidable.

“Jules Bianchi’s death was avoidable. The FIA Panel Inquiry Report into this accident made numerous recommendations to improve safety in Formula 1 but failed to identify where errors had been made which led to Jules’ death.

“It was surprising and distressing to the Bianchi family that the FIA panel in its conclusions, whilst noting a number of contributing factors, blamed Jules. The Bianchi family are determined that this legal process should require those involved to provide answers and to take responsibility for any failings.

“This is important if current and future drivers are to have confidence that safety in the sport will be put first. If this had been the case in Suzuka, Jules Bianchi would most likely still be alive and competing in the sport he loved today.”

Bianchi was the first F1 driver to die as a result of injuries sustained at a race weekend since Ayrton Senna in 1994. A twenty year gap that shows how much safety has moved on since that tragic day, but will the nature of the sport ever allow it to move on enough, that such tragedies can be eradicated completely?

The family is due to attend the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend, the track where their son scored the Marussia F1 team’s first ever points, when Bianchi claimed a fabulous ninth place finish in 2014. A feat that will be forever remembered fondly in F1 fans hearts.

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