May 1, 1994 – October 5, 2014: a twenty-year period during which the world of Formula 1 managed to metabolize the disappearance of two drivers, which took place during the tragic weekend in Imola. Two days in the mid-90s in which the young rookie Roland Ratzenberger and the champion Ayrton Senna lost their lives, as if the abyss in terms of competitiveness between the two had been canceled, all of a sudden, by dramatically fatal accidents.
Two decades in which the Circus, following continuous and constant new security measures gradually introduced in the regulation, was convinced that death would be a distant, painful memory, but finally defeated. Twenty years of technological advances swept by a terrible fate which, exactly seven years ago, was instead able to erase forever one of the sweetest and most genuine smiles in the paddock, where one of the most promising talents in this sport was forming.
What happened under the flood of Suzuka the 5th October 2014 it was the end of this collective illusion, capable of reopening a wound to the heart that now seemed to be contained. It all happened on a cold autumn morning, when the Italian public woke up with the news of a very serious accident that occurred at the Marussia from Jules Bianchi.
Grandson of Lucien Bianchi and united by the tragic fate on the track with the latter – who died during the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans – Jules was born in Nice on August 3, 1989, growing up in his beloved city surrounded by the affection of a family of origins Italian. Champion of France with karts and in Formula Renault, as well as two titles in the F3 Euroseries, Bianchi entered theFerrari Academy in 2009, just twenty years of age.
From then on, the transition to Formula 1 seemed imminent for the young transalpine promise, who in fact managed to make her debut in the top flight on the occasion of the championship. 2013, signing with Marussia. At the wheel of an uncompetitive single-seater, Bianchi was unable to express his full potential, most of the time being stuck in the rear. His talent, however, emerged precisely in one of the most difficult events on the F1 scene as the Monaco GP, in 2014. Thanks to the 9th place conquered, the French took his own first points in the premier class, for him and his team.
The result, combined with the tests with Ferrari, prompted Bianchi to try to repeat a placement in the points throughout the championship, also trying to do it on the occasion of the Japanese Grand Prix. To complicate the achievement of the feat were the weather conditions, with a heavy rain that poured on the Suzuka track, home of the 15th round of that World Championship.
In qualifying Bianchi did not go beyond the 20th place on the grid, placing his car number 17 still ahead of that of his teammate Max Chilton. The intensity of the rain, however, forced the Race Direction to decree the start under the Safety Car regime, starting a test which was subsequently suspended due to the spin of Marcus Ericsson.
The conditions at the edge of the track began to arouse perplexity on the part of several drivers, with the race being restarted anyway after a 20-minute stop, once again under safety conditions. However, the battles in the noble areas of the standings were suddenly interrupted on lap 43. It all began when Adrian Sutil’s Sauber went off the track at the Dunlop corner, with the Swiss driver losing control of his car. The marshals took action to remove the car, using one small bulldozer to lift it off the ground and take it beyond the barriers.
During these operations, in the meantime, the Race Direction did not decree the entry of the Safety Car, with the simple display of the yellow flags at the point of the accident. A decision that soon turned out to be dramatic: a few moments after Sutil’s off-piste, Jules Bianchi lost control of his car at exactly the same point, who went to impact violently against the bulldozer used by the commissioners.
The Marussia got stuck under the vehicle, with the pilot who, due to the collision that took place at the height of the cockpit, went into a coma. The race was stopped immediately and definitively, in order to allow the medical staff to intervene. The Frenchman was transported in very serious condition to the nearby Yokkaichi hospital, in an attempt to reduce an extensive brain hematoma.
In the following months, the Frenchman was transferred to France to continue the treatment at the hospital in Nice, remaining in desperate conditions and without seeing any improvement. On July 17, 2015, almost a year after the accident and a little less than his 25th birthday, Jules Bianchi’s heart stopped beating, throwing into total despair an environment that, until the end, he hoped to see again one of the most sincere and unique smiles.