Formula 1

Jules Bianchi's death- a dangerous reminder

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It is tragic that Frenchman Jules Bianchi, 25, died so young, standing on the cusp of a promising career.

It seems even worse if it could have been an avoidable accident? Should the safety car have come out, before the lifting gear came forward, especially with bad conditions?

Jules started his journey karting, aged three, showing signs of better things to come. Maybe his path was inevitable as he came from a racing family. His grandfather, Mauro Bianchi, raced GT in the late fifties and early sixties.


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Mauro's brother, Lucien, also had the racing bug. He won Le Mans in 1968. Unfortunately he was killed the following year testing for the next Le Mans.

Jules was the first person to be recruited for the Ferrari Driving Academy. Prior to this he had raced with Formula Renault 3.5 GP2. He then became test driver for Ferrari in 2011. He was loaned to Force India as test driver in 2012. In 2014 he debuted with the Marussia Team, scoring their first points at the Monaco Grand Prix.

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Like so many other drivers racing is in their blood. They are aware of the risks but the need for speed far outweighs the dangers. I'm sure if you asked drivers how they would want to die, they would cry in chorus, on the track, behind the wheel. They would probably add though, at a ripe old age. The tragedy is, drivers are at the top of their game on average, between 23 and 35, to young to lose your life.

Safety is better than ever before, death now is very rare. So when it happens it is much more of a shock, isn't it? Drivers have been walking away from the most spectacular crashes for at least the last 25 years.

Cameron Earl from the UK was the first to die in Formula One, testing for ERA team. Four in all died in the 50's racing plus two testing. Indianapolis 500 was included in the championships in the 1950's. Seven drivers lost their lives during these races.

11 drivers died in the 60's plus 1 person testing. In 1961 Wolfgang von Trips was killed in Italy when is car hit a barrier and also killed 14 spectators.

10 drivers died in the 70's. Austrian, Jochen Rindt, died September 1970 while qualifying in a Lotus car at the Italian GP. He won the championship that year posthumously. This decade also included the death of Ronnie Peterson at Monza. After a mass collision on the first bend Peterson was left with serious leg injuries. Due to a delay of medical staff to the scene it was believed this contributed to his death the next day.

Four in the 80's, including Gilles Villeneuve at Belgium in 1982. Paletti was killed with chest injuries in only his second race in Canada. Also two people testing. Most of the above crashes resulted in cars catching fire. From the early 80's driving began wearing the much improved fire-retardant overalls.

Two in 90's One being World Champion Ayrton Senna in 1994 at San Marino GP.

During these decades not only drivers died but spectators and marshals also suffered loses too. Gradually over the years, barriers have been strengthened, crowds moved back, safety cars and flags used. Better safety in the pits adhered to.

Now 21 years later Jules Bianchi. Looking through these records drivers can be forgiven for becoming complacent. Formula One will never be perfectly safe, the nature of the sport will never allow this. As long there are drivers willing to push the barriers, there will be fatal accidents.

Fortunately these will be very rare, so all the more shocking.


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