Mercedes Lewis Hamilton may have won the Japanese Grand Prix Sunday, claiming his third straight Formula One (F1) race, but all eyes are on Jules Bianchi after suffering a severe head injury in a crash near the end of the race. Bianchi, who drives for Marussia, spun off the track and hit the car of Adrian Sutil. Sutil’s car was damaged in an earlier crash and being removed from the track when the Marussia car lost control and collided with the damaged racer.
Bianchi was taken to a nearby hospital to receive treatment for his injuries. A CT scan showed the driver had sustained a severe head injury. The injury needed to be attended to immediately and Bianchi was taken into emergency surgery. After the emergency procedure, Bianchi was in intensive care, but breathing independently as of late Sunday. The next update is expected Monday morning.
Sutil, uninjured, was out of his car which had spun out earlier in the Japanese Grand Prix,and was in the process of being removed from the track witnessed Jules Bianchi severely spin out in the same area before hitting his already damaged F1 car. Sutil could not comment further on the incident that sent Bianchi to the hospital, other than being aware of the injured driver’s situation and knowing that he was receiving the best care.
Sutil’s crash had put the race under a yellow flag, and the next time Jules Bianchi came around the corner under the caution and in the rain-soaked track spun and headed straight towards the car being removed and forced the red flag, ending the race.
Hamilton was leading his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg when the red flag ended the Japanese Grand Prix on the 44th lap of 53. After Bianchi was taken to the hospital and the wrecked cars were removed from the track, officials elected to not restart the final 9 laps sure to poor visibility and heavy rains. The decision gave Hamilton the victory over his teammate and the rest of the field.
At the post race press conference, Hamilton spoke about Bianchi, stating that all the drivers thoughts and prayers were with the Marussia driver. The Mercedes driver said that when a colleague is hurt, it overshadows everything else. Many of the racers voiced the same feelings around the track after the race. It was a somber time after the race that sent Jules Bianchi to the hospital.
The thought of moving the start time of the race up due to a typhoon approaching was dismissed. When the race started, the rain was falling very hard and after two, slow laps, a 10-minute delay occurred before the race restarted. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso could not restart after the delay and was forced out of the race with a frustrating technical problem with his car.
While the severity of the injury and the condition of Jules Bianchi will not be updated until Monday, F1 moves on from the Japanese Grand Prix and heads west to Russia. The cars and teams now head to Sochi for the first Russian Grand Prix, set for October 12.
Commentary by Carl Auer