Bianchi Crashes In Japanese GP; Suffers Severe Head Trauma
Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel took the podium at the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix in a subdued ceremony, sans the usual spraying of Mumm champagne, after a crash during the race left Frenchman Jule Bianchi in critical condition.
Earlier on lap 43, Sauber driver Adiran Sutil had spun and collided with the tyre barrier as the rain intensified. While the wreckage was being lifted by a tractor, Bianchi lost control of his Marussia and sped across the run-off area, hitting the back of the tractor.
The safety and medical cars were deployed, but it wasn’t until two laps later that, after 46 laps, the race was red-flagged and terminated. Immediately, questions about the timing of the safety car deployment arose, and whether the race should have even commenced at all. Felipe Massa is one of the criticizers; he said, “I was already screaming on the radio five laps before that there was too much water on the track but then they just took a little bit too long and it was dangerous.
“In my opinion they started the race too early because it was not driveable at the beginning, and it finished too late.”
Bianchi was initially brought to the medical centre in the circuit before he was transported to the Mie Prefectural General Medical Centre in Yokkaichi. Before the surgery, his father, Philippe, revealed that CT scans showed that his son had severe head trauma. Bianchi came through the surgery and is breathing independently.
It was a bittersweet victory for Hamilton who claimed his first victory at Suzuka after brilliantly outperforming his teammate. He had urged the officials to green light the race after an initial attempt was abandoned after only two laps. He purportedly said, “The track’s as good as it’s going to get; puddles aren’t a problem.”
When the racing got underway, the field still trailed behind the safety car until the 10th lap. Hamilton tailed Rosberg at the front of the field, both of them on full wet tyres. After switching to intermediates, Hamilton closed in while Rosberg struggled with oversteer. On the 29th lap came Hamilton’s moment of glory; as Rosberg faltered exiting the last corner, Hamilton used this DRS and moved for the outside line as the German clung to the inside line down to the first corner. Hamilton flew ahead to an almost 10-second lead by the time the safety car was deployed due to Bianchi’s accident.
Hamilton’s happiness was muted. “Obviously a great result for the team…But I think we’re all very concerned about our colleague, Bianchi. I don’t really know what to say…”