Jules Bianchi’s condition was described by an FIA spokesman as “serious but stable” on Monday, following surgery at Mie General Medical Centre, near Suzuka for injuries sustained in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix. Meanwhile an amateur video of the crash has appeared, which shows the full violence of the accident.
“Bianchi is in a serious but stable condition,” FIA’s head of F1 media Matteo Bonciani told reporters at the hospital. “That’s all I can say, and I’m doing this update on Jules’ parents’ behalf.”
Bianchi’s parents, Philippe and Christine, have arrived at the hospital today, where they met with Marussia’s Graeme Lowden and John Booth as well as Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci. Bianchi is a member of the Ferrari Young Driver programme and was being developed with a view to driving for Ferrari one day.
Earlier, Marussia issued a statement saying that “The Marussia F1 Team would like to acknowledge the huge outpouring of support and affection for Jules and the Team at this very difficult time.
“With regard to the communication of information concerning Jules’ medical condition, we will respect, and be guided by, the wishes of the Bianchi family. Together with Jules’ care, they will remain our highest priority. Therefore, we would ask for patience and understanding with regard to further medical updates, which will be communicated in conjunction with the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, where Jules is being treated, when they feel it is appropriate.”
Bianchi aquaplaned off the circuit and crashed into a CAT tractor which was moving the damaged Sauber of Adrian Sutil in the closing stages of Sunday’s race.
An amateur video has emerged this evening on Vimeo which shows the accident clearly. We will not publish it here because it is too distressing. It clearly shows the CAT reversing in the gravel trap, with Sutil’s car suspended from the front, while a marshal walking alongside it on the left, holding the nose down with a cable. The marshal sees Bianchi’s car arriving at speed and jumps backwards. It narrowly misses him and the Marussia violently strikes the rear of the CAT, wiping the air box off the car and lifting the rear of the CAT into the air with the severity of the blow.
The flag marshal on the tower (number 12) above the crash site was waving double yellow flags initially but switches to a green flag while the CAT removal operation was still happening, around 10 seconds before Bianchi comes through. This indicates the end of the zone where drivers have to slow down. The marshal then continues to wave a green flag for around a minute after Bianchi’s accident.
The track leading up to the Sutil crash area will have been subject to double waved yellow caution flags while the operation was carried out.
But the drivers are not reliant only on flags. F1 circuits also have yellow lights on the outside of the circuit and these will have been highly visible in the gloomy light levels. Additionally Bianchi will also have had yellow light in his cockpit on the marshalling system to tell him that there was a danger area ahead. The protocol is that a driver must show that he lifted off on the telemetry. F1 engineers have told this site that drivers generally lift for barely a second in such situations.
There is no mandatory speed a driver must reduce down to under waved yellow flags, unlike behind a safety car which does have a mandatory speed.
One important question the FIA will no doubt already have investigated is what happened with the flag marshalling at that point and they will have sought confirmation that the system was still working for the lights on track and in Bianchi’s cockpit.
Reports from French journalists at the hospital last night that Bianchi was “breathing unaided” have not been confirmed by the hospital, nor by the FIA while other media reports suggest that he is on a respirator. A UK based surgeon with knowledge of this kind of injury and operation told this website that it would be surprising for a patient not to be on a respirator at this point.
Prof Gerard Saillant, the specialist who attended to Michael Schumacher in Grenoble after his head injury while skiing in December, is on his way to Japan. Saillant is president of the FIA Institute and a close associate of Jean Todt, whose son Nicolas is Bianchi’s manager.