Bianchi racing career is over, experts warn

Ross McLean
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Marussia’s Jules Bianchi suffered a diffuse axonal injury during the Japanese Grand Prix
NEUROLOGICAL experts have warned that Jules Bianchi is unlikely to resume his Formula One career following the Marussia driver’s horrific smash during Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

The family of the 24-year-old revealed yesterday the Frenchman has suffered a diffuse axonal injury and remains in a stable but critical condition in the intensive care unit of the Mie General Medial Centre in Yokkaichi.

While a diffuse axonal injury can have wide-ranging repercussions, consultant neurosurgeon Tony Belli of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham anticipates the severity of Bianchi’s injuries will spell the end of a promising F1 career.

“Even if he did make a complete recovery within a short time, it would be really unwise for him to risk another injury as that could have a cumulative effect with the first one,” Mr Belli told City A.M.

“Experts in this field would certainly not be in favour of that at all. It would be really risky for anyone to put themselves through the possibility of another accident.

“Also, if someone has suffered a severe head injury there are a lot of things that change that prevent people from competing at that level. This can include slower reaction times and cognitive problems, attention deficits, a whole hosts of things.

“I don’t see him returning to competitive motor racing at any time soon even in the best scenario.”

Bianchi, who made his F1 debut with Marussia in 2013 and is also a member of the Ferrari young driver academy, ploughed into a recovery vehicle on the rain-hit Suzuka track on Sunday.

The recovery vehicle was trackside as a result of Sauber driver Adrian Sutil aquaplaning a lap earlier, causing him to spin off track and hit a tyre wall, with Bianchi subsequently undergoing emergency surgery.

While the FIA, the world’s motorsport governing body, have ordered a review of the events leading up to the incident, Bianchi’s family issued a statement yesterday expressing their gratitude for the global messages of support since the crash.

“This is a very difficult time for the family,” read the statement. “But the messages of support and affection for Jules from all over the world have been a source of great comfort to us.”


■ A diffuse axonal injury is the typical consequence of a high velocity accident with acceleration, deceleration and rotational forces

■ The long fibres which connect nerves together get damaged by being stretched and twisted

■ The brain swells in response to the damage which can restrict blood flow

■ Some diffuse axonal injuries have minimal consequences, others are profound and prevent full recovery

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