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Jules Bianchi

Full Name:
Jules Lucien Andre Bianchi
Born:
3rd August 1989
Nice, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
Died:
17th July 2015 (Aged 25)
Nice, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, following an accident during the Japanese GP on 5th October 2014
Nationality:
French
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

The Bianchi brothers were successful Belgian racing drivers of Italian extraction during the 1960s and French-born Jules looked set to emulate their achievements two generations later. His grandfather Mauro won the 1966 Macau Grand Prix with an Alpine T66-Renault and, two years later, great uncle Lucien finished third at Monaco and won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Pedro Rodríguez. A member of the Ferrari Formula 1 Academy, Jules Bianchi was successfully establishing himself as a GP driver before tragedy stuck during the 2014 Japanese GP.

Karting and early career

Bianchi followed the family profession at an early age for he was racing karts almost as soon as he could walk. He was French Champion and second in the 2006 Formula A World Cup during his final season in the discipline. He joined SG Formula for his Formula Renault 2.0 debut a year later and the success continued – Bianchi won five times to ease to the 2007 French title.

The 2008 Formula 3 Euroseries followed with ART Grand Prix and his momentum continued. Quick from the start of the season, he led Nico Hülkenberg and Jon Lancaster to an ART 1-2-3 in the F3 Masters at Zolder to score his breakthrough victory. Late season wins at Le Mans and Hockenheim (although all-but one lap of the latter race was run behind the safety car) helped the French rookie to third in the final championship standings.

Firm title favourite in his second season with ART, Bianchi recovered from a lacklustre opening weekend (due to a broken rear damper it transpired) to dominate the 2009 championship with nine victories. Those included "reverse" grid races at Zandvoort and Dijon-Prenois where Bianchi stormed through from row four to prove his racecraft. He then drove for Ferrari in the end-of-season Jerez young driver tests at the start of a long-term relationship with the legendary F1 team.

2010s

He remained with ART for his GP2 graduation in the 2009/10 Asian championship – finishing third on his debut in Abu Dhabi and qualifying on pole position next time out in Bahrain. He also began the main 2010 GP2 Series from pole but collided with Christian Vietoris at the start. Further pole positions at Silverstone and Monza were testament to the youngster's speed and he scored three second place finishes. Third in the standings behind the more experienced Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Pérez was a fine return, all the more so for he missed Hungary's sprint race after injuring his back at the start of the feature event.

Runner-up in the shortened 2010/11 GP2 Asia Series and now Ferrari's test and reserve driver, title success in the main GP2 Series was the minimum requirement for Bianchi's 2011 campaign. The first half of the season was compromised by disappointing qualifying performances and a couple of accidents. He converted pole position at Silverstone into his only victory that year but Bianchi was a distant third overall as his career stuttered for the first time.

Force India's F1 reserve driver (at Ferrari's behest) during 2012, he tested for the team on the Friday of nine GPs during the season. A parallel Formula Renault 3.5 campaign with Tech 1 Racing started badly for Bianchi was disqualified from the opening round at Motorland Aragon after finishing second. He then won three times (Nürburgring, Silverstone and Paul Ricard) and entered the Barcelona finale trailing Robin Frijns by four points. His rival simply drove into him to secure the title with Bianchi a furious runner-up.

Formula 1 – promise and tragedy

Much of the winter was spent negotiating for a Force India race seat but he was eventually overlooked in favour of the returning Adrian Sutil. However, Bianchi was a late replacement at Marussia when Luiz Razia's promised sponsorship funds failed to materialise. Points may have been a distant dream during 2013 but Bianchi impressed nonetheless. His 13th place finish in Malaysia proved enough for Marussia to edge Caterham in the constructors’ standings – securing a lucrative 10th in the final championship.

Recognised as the best rookie of 2013, Bianchi remained with the now Ferrari-powered Marussia team for the following season. He continued to impress and was a star of the Monaco GP – muscling past Kamui Kobayashi's Caterham as he came from the back of the grid to finish ninth and score vital first points for the team. He also escaped from Q1 on a couple of occasions and qualified 12th at Silverstone.

However, such promise was cruelly cut short in the wet Japanese GP at Suzuka. He crashed into the recovery vehicle that was tending to Sutil's Sauber during a yellow flag period. The talented young Frenchman suffered severe head injuries and remained in a coma for nine months. Bianchi died in hospital in his hometown of Nice on July 17 2015, the first driver since Ayrton Senna to suffer fatal injuries during a Grand Prix. That he was a driver with the potential to race for a top F1 team was illustrated by Ferrari’s long-term commitment. His accident prompted a review of safety car procedures and his death was met with mourning throughout the racing world.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2014 F1 World Championship
Marussia F1 Team
15 0 0 0
0% win rate
17th 2
2013 F1 World Championship
Marussia F1 Team
19 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 0
2012 F1 World Championship
Sahara Force India F1 Team
0 (9) 0 0 0 0
2012 World Series by Renault
Tech 1 Racing
17 5 8 3
18% win rate
2nd 185
2011 GP2 Series
Lotus ART
18 2 6 1
6% win rate
3rd 53
2011 GP2 Asia Series
Lotus ART
4 0 2 1
25% win rate
2nd 18
2010 GP2 Series
ART Grand Prix
19 (1) 3 4 0
0% win rate
3rd 52
2009/2010 GP2 Asia Series
ART Grand Prix
6 1 1 0
0% win rate
12th 8
2009 World Series by Renault
SG Formula
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
2009 F3 Euroseries
ART Grand Prix
20 6 12 9
45% win rate
1st 114
2009 Cooper Tires British F3 Championship
ART Grand Prix
2 0 2 2 0
2008 F3 Euroseries
ART Grand Prix
20 3 7 2
10% win rate
3rd 47
2007 French Formula Renault 2.0 Championship 1st -