Bianchi’s family sue over F1 death

The family of the late Formula One driver Jules Bianchi plans to take legal action over the driver’s death following an accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

Lawyers acting for the family say they have sent “formal pre-action letters of claim” to motorsport federation FIA, Bianchi’s Marussia team and the Formula One group run by Bernie Ecclestone.

A statement from UK-based law firm Stewarts Law quoted partner Julian Chamberlayne as saying the French driver’s death was avoidable.

Bianchi’s car collided with a mobile crane in wet conditions and poor visibility at Suzuka on October 5, 2014, and died from his head injuries on July 17, 2015.

He was the first Formula One driver to die as a result of injuries suffered at a race weekend since Brazilian Ayrton Senna in 1994.

The letters of claim invites the FIA, Marussia and the Formula One group “to accept that errors were made in the planning, timing, organisation and conduct of the race which took place in dangerous conditions during the typhoon season in Japan”.

Chamberlayne said the FIA panel inquiry report on the accident made recommendations to improve safety but “failed to identify where errors had been made” that contributed to Bianchi’s death.

“It was surprising and distressing to the Bianchi family that the FIA panel in its conclusions, whilst noting a number of contributing factors, blamed Jules,” he said.

“The Bianchi family are determined that this legal process should require those involved to provide answers and to take responsibility for any failings.

“This is important if current and future drivers are to have confidence that safety in the sport will be put first. If this had been the case in Suzuka, Jules Bianchi would most likely still be alive and competing in the sport he loved today.”

Bianchi’s father, Philippe Bianchi, said the family “seek justice for Jules, and want to establish the truth about the decisions” that led to the accident.

Stewarts Law said the recipients of the letter of claim would be expected to “explain their actions in connection with the race and to indicate if they dispute the claim”.

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