The father of the late Jules Bianchi says drivers are 'afraid' to speak up against the sport's governing bodies over his son's accident and death as the family prepare legal action against several parties.
Ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, it was announced the Bianchi family was to launch a lawsuit against the FIA, FOM and Marussia to argue Jules' accident in the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, in which he slid off track into a recovery vehicle, was avoidable.
With Bianchi succumbing to his serious injuries nine months later, the subsequent report into the accident published in December 2014 found a combination of factors – rather than one major contributing factor – led to the tragic accident, including the weather, the position of the recovery vehicle and also the speed of Bianchi on the approach to the bend.
However, Philippe Bianchi contests these findings, saying he feels drivers are too afraid to speak up on record and the accident panel – which was made up on officials and team principals - was too close to the FIA to be impartial.
“One driver with me, with a camera will say nothing because I think all of the people are afraid to say something,” he told Sky Sports News
. “With no camera all the people come to see me and say 'it is not correct, Jules made nothing [mistake], they made a mistake'.
“I have a lot of respect for people who made up the accident panel, but all of the people are very near the FIA and cannot be correct for me.”
The legal case is set to focus on whether the race should have gone ahead in poor weather conditions brought on in the wake of a tsunami that had swept across the wider region and had already forced the race to be stopped after just three laps. Rain had been worsening in the laps leading up to Bianchi's accident and the race was under safety car conditions at the time.
“The conditions in Japan for all of the drivers, it was terrible conditions and the light was not good. There was a lot of rain, they cannot say that Jules made a mistake, it is not possible.”
With the FIA, FOM and Marussia (now known as Manor) yet to respond to the legal action, Sir Jackie Stewart nonetheless says the Bianchi family will find it difficult to blame other organisations given the telemetry which suggests Bianchi was going too fast in the circumstances.
“It will be very difficult to justify a case fully against the sport or the race track owner, or F1 because he should have been going slower.”