Negligence charged in events leading to 2015 death of Formula One driver
The family of Formula One racer Jules Bianchi, who died nine months after his crash in the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, has launched a legal action.
It is believed to be the first such action launched by the family of an F1 driver since Mark Donohue died after his crash at the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix. The suit, against Goodyear and Penske, was finally settled out of court in 1986 for $9.6 million.
Bianchi was injured when he crashed into a tractor crane that had been dispatched to retrieve the Sauber of Adrian Sutil. Bianchi died in July 2015, in a hospital in Nice, France, having never regained consciousness.
The suit names the FIA, the F1 Group, and the Marussia team, which is now known as Manor Racing. It is being handled by a British law firm.
A statement from the Bianchi family`s law firm said: “Stewarts Law, the UK’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, organization and conduct of the race which took place in dangerous conditions during the typhoon season in Japan.
It added: “Prominent individuals in the world of Formula One, including current and former drivers and world champions, have criticized the conduct of the race.”
The Bianchi family`s lawyer said that the family wants to find out what went wrong at Suzuka, and who is accountable.
“Jules Bianchi’s death was avoidable,” said Stewarts Law partner Julian Chamberlayne. “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.”
“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.”
The statement also confirmed that the Bianchi family is setting up a charitable organization in Jules` memory “which will support young, aspiring motorsport drivers to realize 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 organization 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.”
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