July 17 marks one year since Jules Bianchi passed away
French driver suffered head injury at 2014 Japanese GP
Bianchi family taking legal action against racing authorities
The brightly colored crash helmet still sits on the lounge table – his driver’s suit hangs in the kitchen.
It has been a year since Formula One driver Jules Bianchi died in an accident watched by millions across the world – a year that has brought unimaginable pain to the Bianchi family.
“Every day, every time I see his photography, I cry,” his father Philippe Bianchi tells CNN’s Amanda Davies.
Sunday July 17 marks the anniversary when Jules succumbed to the horrendous injuries he suffered after a high-speed crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
Phillipe has not watched the crash again – he does not want to relive that moment. “To lose a child is not normal. For all the parents who lose children it’s difficult,” he says. “It’s difficult for me. It’s difficult for his mother. It’s difficult for all.”
It was on October 5 2014 that Bianchi sustained a “diffuse axonal injury” after crashing into a recovery vehicle on the 43rd lap at Suzuka – a potentially devastating type of brain injury which causes widespread tearing of nerve fibers across the whole of the brain, according to the UK brain injury charity, Headway.
He was rushed to hospital by road – the torrential rain making it too treacherous to travel by helicopter.
Within an hour, Philippe was on the airplane to Japan.
Not since Ayrton Senna’s untimely death at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994 had the sport lost a driver – the Brazilian three-time world champion losing his life just 24 hours after Austrian Roland Ratzenberger had died during qualifying at Imola.
Philippe knew almost immediately after watching the crash that something had gone badly wrong.
He had watched Jules career off the track at turn seven, slamming straight into a recovery vehicle as it attended another car.
A phone call from Japan urged him to get on the airplane as soon as possible – the prognosis was not good.
Just 24 hours earlier he had sent Jules his customary pre-race message.
“I am with you – tomorrow I am with you in your car,” Philippe said.
Bianchi did not respond. It was the first time he had not responded.
“Perhaps he knew that he had a problem …”