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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Family of Jules Bianchi plan legal action over ‘mistakes’ leading to F1 driver’s death

The family of the late French Formula One driver are planning legal action against the FIA, Marussia and the Formula One Group.
Jules Bianchi races during the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix, the race at which his fatal accident occurred. Mark Thompson / Getty Images
Jules Bianchi races during the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix, the race at which his fatal accident occurred. Mark Thompson / Getty Images

The family of the late French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi are planning legal action against the sport’s governing body, his former Marussia team and Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Group, they said in a statement on Thursday.

“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,” his father Philippe said in the statement issued by British firm Stewarts Law.

“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.”

Bianchi, 25, died in hospital in his hometown of Nice last July after suffering serious head injuries when he crashed into a recovery crane at Suzuka during the October 2014 race.

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He was the first Formula One driver to die of injuries sustained during a race since Brazilian triple world champion Ayrton Senna in 1994.

Stewarts Law, representing the family in the English legal system, said formal pre-action letters of claim had been sent this week ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

The recipients were the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA), the defunct Marussia team who are racing under new ownership as Manor, and the Formula One Group.

Stewarts said errors were made in the planning, timing, organisation and conduct of the race and the family felt the actions of one or more of the named parties may have contributed to the fatal accident.

“The Bianchi family are determined that this legal process should require those involved to provide answers and to take responsibility for any failings,” Stewarts partner Julian Chamberlayne said.

“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.”

There was no immediate response from the FIA, whose report into the accident said that the Frenchman had not slowed sufficiently under warning flags before crashing.

The report found Bianchi’s car hit the tractor at 126 kph and said medical services were not at fault in their handling of the aftermath.

Chamberlayne said it had been “surprising and distressing to the Bianchi family that the FIA panel in its conclusions, while noting a number of contributing factors, blamed Jules.”

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