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Remembering Jules Bianchi’s Life and Legacy

Written by Jiya Mahapatra, Edited by Sean McKean

When we talk about Formula 1, we talk about victory, celebrations, and fanfare. However, F1 isn’t always about fireworks and champagne. We rarely bring up the past, including times when motorsports has gone wrong. The passing of Jules Bianchi is considered to be one of the most tragic events in racing, and in this article, we will be remembering his life, his career, and the legacy he left behind. 

Jules Bianchi in a Ferrari during testing at Silverstone circuit in 2014; Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Born in Nice to parents Phillipe and Christine, Bianchi participated in a number of junior championships en route to Formula 1, including Formula Renault 2.0, Formula 3 Euro, and GP2. He eventually made his Formula 1 debut in 2013, signing with Marussia F1. 

After a tough start to his F1 career, Bianchi eventually scored his first world championship points in 2014, when he finished ninth at the Monaco Grand Prix. Although he was happy with the progress that he had made, Bianchi’s dream was always to drive for the iconic Scuderia Ferrari team.

In fact, mere days before his tragic accident, he had stated that he was ‘ready’ to step in’ for the Italian team should they need him, a notion which came about with the looming departure of Fernando Alonso. 

Sadly, Bianchi never got the chance to turn his dream into a reality. 

On the 43rd lap of the Japanese Grand Prix in 2014, Bianchi lost control of his car and collided with a recovery vehicle that was removing the remains of Adrian Sutil’s Sauber. Safety marshals declared him unconscious, and he was rushed to the hospital.

It was discovered that he had sustained a diffuse axonal injury, a tearing of nerve fibres in the brain. He underwent emergency surgery, but was placed in a medically induced coma, and remained comatose until he sadly passed away on the 17th of July, 2015.

Jules Bianchi being rushed to the hospital following his accident; Credit:Getty Images

Bianchi’s passing shocked the entire world of motorsports, with a minute of silence being observed prior to the race in Hungary in 2015. In addition to that, FIA president Jean Todt announced that Bianchi’s race number, 17, would be retired from F1 as a sign of respect for the French driver. 

His shocking accident brought forth a mission to improve driver safety. The Frenchman’s death was one of the driving factors for the invention of the halo in 2018, a contraption that has saved multiple lives in racing in its short lifespan. Essentially, it acts as a cockpit protection device that shields the driver’s head from impact forces and oncoming objects. 

While his passing was a tragedy, Bianchi’s legacy is far from dead. He happened to be the godfather of current F1 superstar Charles Leclerc, who drives for Scuderia Ferrari, the same team that his godfather had always wished to be part of. He played an important role in Leclerc’s junior career, and helped him to fund his journey to the pinnacle of racing. Leclerc stated:

“I had to quit motorsport because my father no longer had the means to pay for my career, but luckily there was Jules who was my sports godfather, who helped me a lot”. 

According to the Monegasque, Bianchi “called Nicolas Todt saying that if I don’t have extra help at the end of the year, I’d have to stop my career.”. Todt eventually agreed to help pay for Leclerc’s career. It’s likely that Leclerc wouldn’t be where he is today if it weren’t for Bianchi’s support.

Jules Bianchi was the godfather of current F1 driver Charles Leclerc; Credit:Tejas Venkatesh/

Jules Bianchi was a beloved figure in the sport, and will be missed by many for years to come. To quote former team principal Bob Fearnley: 

“He was one of those rare exceptions in life. Not only was he exceptionally talented, he was also a wonderful person.” 

For now, it’s incredible to see Charles Leclerc chasing the glory that his godfather always longed for, with his guardian angel watching over him during every race. 


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