The family of Formula One racing driver, Jules Bianchi, has today announced they plan to take legal action in England relating to the fatal head injuries Jules Bianchi sustained in a violent collision with a mobile crane at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, 2014.
Stewarts, the country’s largest litigation-only law firm, have this week sent formal pre-action letters of claim to:
- the World Governing Body of Formula One, the FIA;
- Team Marussia, who Jules was driving for at the time; and
- the Formula One Group of companies, who control the TV and media rights for the sport.
The letters explain why the Bianchi family feel the actions of one or more of those parties, amongst others, may have contributed to Jules’ fatal accident and invite them to accept that errors were made in the planning, timing, organisation and conduct of the race which took place in dangerous conditions during the typhoon season in Japan.
Stewarts partner Julian Chamberlayne, who is representing the Bianchi family, added:
“Jules Bianchi’s death was 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 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.”
Prominent individuals in the world of Formula One, including current and former drivers and world champions, have criticised the conduct of the race.
Jules’ father, Philippe Bianchi, speaking on behalf of the whole family, said:
“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.”
Jules Bianchi’s parents, Philippe and Christine, have set up a charitable organisation in his memory which will support young, aspiring motorsport drivers to realise their potential. They will this weekend be attending the Monaco Grand Prix, a race which had a special place in Jules’ life, to promote the work of the charitable organisation and its future plans. The family has previously spoken of being unable to watch Formula One because of the pain caused by their son’s death, but have decided to travel to Monaco this weekend to champion their work to support young drivers and improve safety in the sport.
On 5 October 2014 Jules Bianchi was involved in a violent collision with a mobile crane while racing for Team Marussia at the Japanese Grand Prix. Shortly after an accident involving Adrian Sutil, who was driving for Sauber F1 Team, Jules Bianchi also experienced aquaplaning, lost control of his vehicle and left the track.
The race had not been stopped, nor had a Safety Car been sent out despite deteriorating race and track conditions, including torrential rain and poor visibility as well as the presence of the mobile crane at the same turn where Sutil’s accident had just occurred due to aquaplaning and where the racing line was abruptly narrowed by water draining onto the track.
The trajectory of Jules Bianchi’s car led him into a violent impact with a 6500kg Caterpillar 910H mobile crane, which was still in the process of removing Sutil’s car. Tragically, 9 months later Jules died from the serious head injuries he sustained in the accident.
The recipients of the letters of claim will be expected to respond in due course, to explain their actions in connection with the race and to indicate if they dispute the claim.
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