Former world champion Jenson Button has led tributes to “real fighter” Jules Bianchi after the Frenchman died as a result of severe head injuries in a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
His family said Jules fought valiantly up until he passed away.
“Jules fought until the end, as he has always done”, the family said, “but yesterday, his battle ended”.
“The pain we feel is vast and indescribable”, they said.
Manor Marussia driver Roberto Merhi said: “The best driver that I raced against has left us after nine months fighting for his life”.
As John Booth, his team principal, put it: “Jules was a shining talent”.
“We would like to ask that our privacy is respected during this hard time, while we try to come to terms with the loss of Jules”. He impressed the Maranello squad so much so that he became the first recruit to join the Ferrari Driver Academy – a connection that would eventually see him land the Marussia Drive.
The Elysee Palace of French President Francois Hollande expressed its “sincere condolences”, while former French prime minister François Fillon said he awoke to the “sad and brutal” news of Bianchi’s death.
There had been increasing concern from his distraught father Philippe this week that his son was failing to make any progress and still hadn’t woken up.
Born on August 3, 1989 Bianchi was born into a racing family, Mauro Bianchi, his grandfather, was successful in F3 and endurance racing, his great-uncle, Lucien, also enjoyed his finest hour in Formula One at the Monaco Grand Prix, scoring a podium finish in 1968.
“Jules Bianchi may he rest in peace”.
Bianchi wrecked previous year after he “did not slow sufficiently” after race organizers waved yellow flags to warn drivers of another accident, according to a 396-page report by the sport’s world governing body, the worldwide Automobile Federation (FIA). Bianchi, a team-mate to current Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, won the same category a year later with nine race victories.
“My thoughts are with his parents, his family and his friends“. Hope the lessons we learned will stop more tragedies like these from happening! Jules Bianchi drove for the Marussia Formula 1 team from the start of 2013, having stepped in to replace the contracted Luis Razia when the Brazilian’s funding dried up.
“We talked about it. He discussed with us that, if one day he had an accident like that of Michael Schumacher, that even if his only handicap was not being able to drive, he would have a lot of difficulty living. We thought a miracle could happen”, Alesi told RMC radio.
Manor Marussia’s statements echoed this as they went on to say “Finally, we would like to thank everyone who has supported Jules since his accident in Japan last October”.
Responding to his death on Saturday morning, the famous Italian team simply wrote: “Ciao, Jules forever in Ferrari’s hearts”. You will be sorely missed.