Bianchi Family Announces Law Suit

Two months ago Philipe Bianchi made the announcement that the family will be suing the Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Group, the FIA, and the Marussia team for the death of his son Jules Bianchi.This will be the first racing family to take legal action against a governing body such as the FIA, and they are the first family to launch a suit against a racing team since the death of Mark Donohue in 1975, who died after a crash during the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix.  If won, this law suit could possibly cost the industry millions.  The Donohue family settled out court for $9.6 million when they launched their suit against Goodyear and Penske in 1986.  The family will be represented by the British law firm Stewarts Law and will be represented by one of the firm’s partners Julian Chamberlayne.


In May, the family sent pre-action letters to the parties being sued explaining how the decisions of one or more of those parties could have be a factor to the accident that took Jules Bianchi’s life.  They also want to clear Jules Bianchi’s name.

When the FIA conducted their investigation of Bianchi’s accident, they concluded that Bianchi was driving too fast under the double yellow flags.  He lost control coming around the curve at 132 mph going around the curve of the circuit, tried to slow down while veering off and colliding with a recovery crane from behind at 78 mph.

However, the family feels that the accident could have been avoided if a series of mistakes had not been made.

  • The race was still held regardless of heavy rain and dimming light.
  • The recovery vehicle was working on the circuit, and endangerment to any driver.
  • Transporting Bianchi by ambulance instead of helicopter took at least 35 minutes longer.


Julian Chamberlayne, the family’s representative stated that stated that:“Jules Bianchi’s death as avoidable.  The FIA Panel Inquiry Report into this accident made numerous recommendations to improve safety in Formula One 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 that 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.”

Through this troubling time the family has had much support from Jules’s fellow drivers and loving fans.  The death of Jules Bianchi has touched a lot of hearts.  The family hopes that the law suit will bring awareness and action, so that safety procedures may be analyzed and improved, drivers and their families will not have to go through the same experience, and Jules’s death will not be in vain.

Currently the family is setting up a charitable organization in Jules’s memory to support young and aspiring motorsport drivers.  Hopefully the Bianchi family, fans, fellow drivers, and other parties can find closure in this situation.

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Could the F1 Racer Jules Bianchi’s Crash Have Been Avoided?

Whenever a mishap, accident, or tragedy has occurred we often ask ourselves many questions such as “how could this happen?” and “what can we do on our part to make sure this does not happen again?”.  These questions were immediately asked after the death of F1 Racer Jules Bianchi.  What happened in the crashed and were there circumstances that contributed the accident, which resulted in his death?


The Accident

On October 5, 2014, the Suzuka Circuit, which was hosting the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, was under unsavory weather conditions of low and fading daylight and heavy rains.  Jules Bianchi began to lose control of his car on the 43rd lap, driving at a speed of 132mph.  He veered to the right of the circuit and collided with the rear of the crane recoveringAndrianSutil’s car, which had also spun out of control and crashed on a previous lap.  The collision caused the crane to jolt and drop Sutil’s vehicle from its suspended position.

When he wasn’t responding to his radio or the marshals, he was reported as unconscious on the scene.  He was then treated on the scene and transported by ambulance to Mile Prefectural General Medicine Center, which took between 30 and 40 minutes.  He suffered from a severe brain injury and had to be under an artificial coma.  Bianchi remained in a coma for months until he was announced dead on July 17, 2015. His funeral was held on July 21, 2015 at the Nice Cathedral.

In May 2016, the Bianchi family announced that they would take legal action against the FIA, Marussia, and Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Group.


Could it Have Been Avoided

Through the FIA investigation we learned that there was no single cause for the accident, but there was a number contributing factors including track conditions, car speed, and the placement of the recovery crane on the circuit.  The FIA suggested changes that could be made to improve the safety of the drivers.  One suggestion was to change the placement of the recovery crane where there was a lower probability of drivers crashing into it.  The FIA also change the start time of a number of Grand Prix, where they are not permitted to start a race less than four hours before sunset.  Changes to the cockpit design have also been stated, but they then concluded that the changes would have made it harder to alleviate Bianchi’s injuries at the time. Another consideration that was brought up by the FIA investigation was that Bianchi’s car’s brake-by-wire system had failed, but Marussia was not found to be at fault for the accident.  The FIA also considered that maybe that maybe the injuries could have been sustained if the cockpit was close, but FIA Safety Commission Chairman Peter Wright concluded that a closed cockpit would not have been much help.

The crash could have been prevented by not allowing the race to commence under certain conditions.  But it did commence. There is a possibility that a crash was imminent even if the crane had not been, but there severity of the crash and the injuries could have possibly been minimized.  Actions such as the implementation of earlier race times and the repositioning of various vehicles and repair sites have been conducted, but there is possibly more that could be done now and could have been done then. Since some of the solutions don’t seem feasible or impactful to the FIA, hopefully the FIA and racing teams can come up with improved safety procedures for the sake of their racers.


Does the Family Bianchi Family Have a Case?

On May 26, 2016 the Bianchi family announced their intent to sue the following parties in regards to Jules Bianchi’s accident and death:

  • The FIA
  • Marussia
  • Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Group

Pre-action letters were sent stating the complaints driving the law suit such as the location of the crane, allowing the race to be held in dangerous weather conditions, and the time it took for Bianchi to be transported to the nearest hospital.

For those not familiar with this accident, while racing the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix Jules Bianchi lost control of his car while driving 132 mph under the double yellow flags.  He was attempting to slow down when the vehicle veered off and hit the crane at a speed of 78 mph.  The FIA identified Bianchi’s speed as the cause of the accident and the injuries that resulted in his death.  Despite also claiming that they were other factors that could have contributed to the accident such as the vehicle location, weather conditions, and the failing of the break-by-wire system, the FIA found no other parties at fault, only Jules Bianchi.

The Bianchi family seeks to clear Jules Bianchi’s name and gain real answers on unanswered questions and facts about the crash.  They also seek action to be taken so that future tragedies can be prevented and the safety of racers is continuously put first.  So does the Bianchi family have a case?


The Crane’s Position

The crane’s position is definitely an issues.  Any other vehicle, besides the participating racers on the circuit is an accident waiting to happen. Having the crane on the circuit in a middle of a race puts the drivers’ safety and the safety of the recover team at risk.  If the crane was not present, Jules Bianchi could have possibly lessen the injuries of Bianchi.  In their report, the FIA made the suggestion of repositioning the crane, but they later concluded that the repositioning of the crane may not have made a difference.  But is that actually true or is the FIA shifting itself from some of the responsibility?


Weather Conditions

The race held during Japan’s typhoon season.  At the time of the race, there was a heavy rain coming from an incoming typhoon, and there was little daylight.  Although daylight may or may not be a factor considering there are not time races, but the heavy rain is definitely an issue.  Even normal, everyday drivers tend to slow down on the roads during heavy rain.  Many sporting events have been cancelled due to heavy rain that don’t involve any type of machinery.  So why would any official or governing body deem it acceptable to hold a race during such conditions?

Transportation Time

When Jules was set to be transported to the nearest hospital, it was decided that he would be transported by ambulance rather than helicopter.  While the ambulance took between 30 and 40 minutes, they helicopter would have taken much less time.  Multiple speculations have been stated as to why the helicopter was not used.  One reason was because of the severity of the injuries.  There was fear that his injuries would have worsen if taken to a high altitude, but it has been argued that the altitude of the helicopter would have not worsen Bianchi’s condition.  Another reason was that the weather was too severe for helicopter transportation.  Of course safe weather conditions plays a huge factor in transportation.  If the weather was too severe for a helicopter to fly and safely transport a patient, then the ambulance is the only choice.  One of the problem is that under racing conditions such as Suzuka’s, regulation states that the only way for a race to continue is that it is demonstrated that ground transportation to a hospital took 20 minutes or less. It took them over 30 minutes.  Was a demonstration actually performed and under “real world” conditions? Or was it just assumed?

The Bianchi family has a pretty good case against the sued parties.  There many decisions and mistakes made that day that could have avoided the accident or given Jules a higher chance of surviving.


FILE: F1 Driver Jules Bianchi Dies From Crash Injuries NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 09:  Jules Bianchi of France sits in a Ferrari in the garage during day two of testing at Silverstone Circuit on July 9, 2014 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Fallen Racers

The sport of racing has a shared love across many countries. Many people travel to different cities and countries to see a race and feel the adrenaline rush live.   As much as we love the sport, often forget how dangerous the sport can be.  Many talented racers have lost their lives doing what they love.  Here are five racers whose death shocked the racing community.

Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan.  Saturday 4 October 2014. Jules Bianchi, Marussia MR03 Ferrari. World Copyright: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic. ref: Digital Image _R6T4520
Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan.
Saturday 4 October 2014.
Jules Bianchi, Marussia MR03 Ferrari.
World Copyright: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic.
ref: Digital Image _R6T4520

Denis Welch (age 69), Silverstone Classic

On July 27, 2014 Denis Welch died in a multiple car collision duringa race for pre-1966 Grand Prix cars.  The accident occurred during the first lap where the cars were driving at a very high speed.  At the hairpin bend the cars started to bunch together.  When the cars were slowing, Welch’s car and another racer’s car collided and sent his car tumbling over.   Since Welch, and other drivers, were handling 60s sports cars they didn’t have the safety equipment and designs, such as modern day cars.  It was said that Welch died during the tumble. His family takes comfort in the fact that he died doing what he loved.

Dan Wheldon (33), Las Vegas Indy 300

On October 17, 2011, Wheldon was involved in a 15-car pile-up during the 11th lap of the race.  As Wheldon was catching up to his lead competitors, making his way from the back to the middle of the pack, several of the cars in front of him started to lose control and collide with each other.  Wheldon was unfortunately caught in the middle of the pile up.  Rescue workers and other helpers were able to reach Wheldon’s car quickly.  He was airlifted from the track and transported to the University Medical Center, where he died two hours later.  As a tribute, drivers drove a five-laps a sign of mourning for Dan Wheldon.


Adam Petty (19), Busch 200 Practice Session

Adam Petty was a fourth generation NASCAR driver, descending from his father Kyle Petty, grandfather Richard Petty, and great-grandfather Lee Petty.  On May 12, 2000 Petty was participating in a practice session at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  During a turn, his throttle was stuck wide open causing his car to collide with the outside wall head on.  He suffered from a basilar skull fracture, killing him instantly.

Dale “The Intimidator” Earnhardt (49), Daytona 500

On February 18, 2001, during the final lap of the race, Earnhardt’s car made a slight impact with Sterling Marlin’s car, then it collided with Ken Schrader’s car, causing him to hit the outside wall head on.  He was transported to Halifax Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. The autopsy showed that he instantly died wall hitting the wall, where he experienced blunt force trauma.  After his death, no one has raced the NASCAR legend’s #3.

Crew members of Marussia driver Jules Bianchi of France (C) push his car to the grid at the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on October 5, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Yuriko Nakao
Crew members of Marussia driver Jules Bianchi of France (C) push his car to the grid at the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on October 5, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Yuriko Nakao

Jules Bianchi (25), 2014 Japanese Grand Prix

On October 5, 2015, Jules Bianchi was racing in the Japanese Grand Prix.  The day was under unsavory weather conditions such as heavy rain and dimming daylight.  Bianchi was driving under the double yellow flags at a speed of 132 mph.  It veered off the track and rear ended at recovery train at 78mph.   Bianchi was transported to Mie Prefectural General Medical Center.  He had severe brain injury and had to be induced into an artificial coma.  On July 17, 2014, Jules Bianchi died.  Many have mourned the racer’s death, and the family is currently pursuing a law suit against the FIA, Marussia, and Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Group.

These racers are mostly remember for their talents and the accomplishments they have made in their careers.  They loved what they did, and died doing what they loved.


How the Jules Bianchi’s Crash Happened and What Can the Racing World Learn from It

When Jules Bianchi crashed during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, the racing world suffered a blow of shock and worry. As a young and talented driver, Bianchi had made many accomplishments in his racing career and was displaying signs of having a very successful racing career, present and future.  The world was very sadden when the young driver died from his injuries on July 17, 2015 at the age of 25.  The death of any driver is highly unfortunate and sad, and it is important that we learn from every accident and mishap and take the steps to prevent any future occurrences or loss.


The Crash and Death

The 2014 Japanese Grand Prix on October 5 was under ugly weather conditions including low and fading daylight and heavy rains cause by the coming Typhoon Phanfone.  Jules Bianchi began to lose control of his car on the 43rd lap of the race as he was about to pass the crash and recovering site of Adrian Sutil.  He veered right towards the Dunlop Curve of the Suzuka Circuit and collided with the rear of a crane recovering Sutil’scar, which had also spun out of control and crashed on a previous lap.  The collision caused the crane to jolt and drop Sutil’s vehicle from its air suspended position.

When he wasn’t responding to his team radio or the marshals, he was reported as unconscious on the scene.  He was then treated on the scene and transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital, which was Mile Prefectural General Medicine Center about 32 minutes away.  He suffered from severe head bruising and was reported to be in critical condition.  After operation and being put under an artificial coma, he was then place into intensive care. Bianchi remained in a critical but stable condition for a month and required a medical ventilator to help with breathing.  He was taken out of his artificial coma in November of 2014 and was able to breathe on his own, but family was losing hope on his full recovery.  He was then transported to France to be closer to friends and family. On July 17, 2015 Jules Bianchi died from his injuries at the age of 25. His funeral was held on July 21, 2015 at the Nice Cathedral.

In May 2016, the Bianchi family announced that they would take legal action against the FIA, Bianchi’s Marussia team and Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Group.

Lessons We Can Learn

Through our excitement and love for the game, we often forget how dangerous this sport can be and the risk that these drivers take with their lives.  As such, it is the responsibility of the racing community to take measures and lessons learned to prevent future incidents and loss from occurring from the same mishaps.  There is no such thing as too much safety.   Safety procedures should be consistently reviewed and improved. Analyzing past and present mistakes and mishaps should be an ongoing practice as a measure of protection for our drivers.  Thankfully the FIA seems to be taking this into consideration and are taking the proper measures to improve track conditions and safety conditions.  No single cause was found to be the cause of the accident, but it can be admitted that there were contributing factors including track conditions, car speed, and the presence of a recovery vehicle on the circuit. The FIA has made many changes, but needs to continuously analyze tracks and racing track events with the mind set of “How can we make it better”.


Most Recent Formula One Fatalities

Formula One is the most popular racing series held around the world. As amazing as it is to see countries come together and race, it is a great tragedy when a racer loses his life doing what he loves.  As a salute and a remembrance of the great racers we have lost, here is a list of the most recent Formula One racer fatalities.


Jules Bianchi (25), 2014 Japanese Grand Prix

On October 5, 2014 Jules Bianchi suffered from an accident while racing the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.  On that day, the Suzuka Circuit was experiencing heavy rain fall and diminishing day light due to the incoming typhoon.  Bianchi was driving at a speed of a 132 mph. After he passed the double red flags, Bianchi started to veer off the circuit and rear ended the crane at 78 mph.  He was transported to Mie Prefectural General Medical Center, where he underwent surgery and was observed to have serious brain injuries.  He was put into an artificial coma for many months, and died on July 17, 2015.   The Bianchi Family is currently suing the FIA, Marussia, and Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Group stating that Jules accident and/ or death could have been avoided if certain actions and decisions have not been made.

Fritz Glatz (58), EuroBOSS

On July 14, 2002, Fritz Glatz was racing in the EuroBOSS series at the Autodrom Most.  He sustained fatal injuries when his car bounce over the curb making the car airborne.  He died at the site of the accident.


John Dawson-Damer (59), Goodwood Festival of Speed

Through an onlooker views it seemed that Dawson-Damer lost control of the vehicle, which collided with a wooden structureat the Sussex Course and hit two marshals. The hit killed Andrew Carpenter, it left Stephen Tarrant in a critical but stable condition, which he recovered from.  At first it was thought that Dawson-Damer died from crash, but now it’s been stated that he was already dead before the crash.  It seems that he may have suffered a heart attack, which would explain why the car was out of control all of a sudden.


Ayrton Senna (34), San Marino Grand Prix

On May 1, 1994 died from fatal skull fractures, brain injuries and a ruptured temporal artery.  He was rounding on the seventh lap at a speed of 191 mph and veered off the track.  He hit the concrete wall at a speed of 145 mph.  Senna was extracted from the vehicle and tended to on site by a Professor Watkins and anesthetist Giovanni Gordini.  While treated, they observed that he had a week heartbeat and significant blood loss. An on-site tracheotomy had to be performed, and Senna was then airlifted to Bologna’s Maggiore Hospital.   Unfortunately, Senna was already brain dead on-site, and they was not anything more that doctors could do.

Roland Ratzenberger (33), San Marino Grand Prix

Previous to the lap when his death occurred, Ratzenberger veered off the track and damaged his front wing. Instead of headed to the cockpit, he decided to continue racing.  Due to speed and downforce, his wing broke off and went under his car.  He then hit the outside wall at a speed of 195.6 mph.  He was transported to Maggiore Hospital in Bologna, Italy where he was pronounced dead.  The autopsy show that a basilar skull fracture was the cause of death.  He died on April 30, 1994, a day before the death of Ayrton Senna.

One recent F1 racer fatality that we did not mention here but mentioned in our other article Fallen Racers was the death of Denis Welch.  Click on the link to read about Welch and other motorsports racers.