For those of you unfamiliar with what happened on that fateful day, I’ll run you through it. Last year’s Japanese Grand Prix was a wet one, with the Suzuka facility proving a difficult task for all the drivers.
Bianchi was battling his way through the conditions when he slid off the track and, in a rather cruel twist of fate, collided with a crane, which was in the process of removing a stricken Sauber that had crashed just one lap earlier. Bianchi sustained serious head trauma and remained in hospital until his passing.
The FIA (motorsports governing body) is to remove Bianchi’s racing number 17 from the available list, which drivers are allowed to choose from. That number will forever be his and there’s something really comforting about that.
This is the first Formula 1 fatality that occurred during an actual Formula 1 race since the late Ayrton Senna lost his life at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. I remember the death of Senna vividly; my father was a massive Formula 1 fan, who loved to watch Senna. His death was a very big deal within our household and I’m sure, in many across the world.
The Brazilian champion was - and will forever be - in my opinion, the greatest driver ever to have lived. His competitiveness, his willingness to do anything to win and more importantly, his ludicrous ability to make a car dance, while simultaneously setting blisteringly fast lap times was and is still, respected by every automotive enthusiast around the world.
His death, much like the death of any person in the public eye has been a topic of discussion for years with many still maintaining that there was a mechanical fault with the car or that perhaps the great man was not in the right frame of mind at race time.
The same weekend that Senna passed, Roland Ratzenberger’s had a massive 300km/h+ fatal accident during qualifying. It has been said that this had a profound effect on Senna however, this is not something that I agree with.
The corner where the incident took place is called Tamburello, which is a flat-out sweep, which has had its fair share of shunts over the years with drivers such as Paccardo Patrese and Gerhard Berger, who both had massive incidents around the corner before Senna’s crash.
But enough about the loss of these two great drivers and more about the celebration of their lives, I say. Senna will always be with us, among the gods of motorsport, watching over us, reminding us that at one point at least, we had racing, sans the politics, team orders and the bickering.
Bianchi will always remind us of the, “...what ifs?” He had so much potential and was apparently to be Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement at Ferrari.
Rest in Peace Jules. I’m sure Ayrton is waiting for a race up there.