UPDATE 1810 ET: Contrary to reports circulating, Ferrari has denied that Jules Bianchi is out of surgery and breathing independently following his accident during today’s Japanese Grand Prix that left him with severe head injuries.
In wet conditions at Suzuka, Sauber’s Adrian Sutil spun off with a few laps remaining, prompting a recovery vehicle to come and try to remove the car.
Bianchi (pictured taking part in practice on Friday at Suzuka) spun off at the crash site, hitting the vehicle that was being used to recover Sutil’s car. He did not respond to a radio call from Marussia at the time.
The Frenchman was transported via ambulance while unconscious to the Mie General Hospital where he underwent surgery for a severe head injury, according to the FIA statement at 0720 ET.
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“The CT scan shows he has suffered a severe head injury and is undergoing surgery,” it read. “Folowing this, he will be moved to intensive care where he will be monitored. Mie General Hospital will issue an update as soon as further information becomes available.”
It had been reported by a number of outlets including the BBC and Sky that Bianchi was out of surgery at the hospital and was breathing independently. However, Ferrari, his parent team, has denied that this is the case, and has given no further updates on his condition.
The next official word is expected to come from the hospital on Monday, with Bianchi moving into intensive care following surgery where he will be monitored further.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, FIA media delegate Matteo Bonciani confirmed that Bianchi had been transported to the hospital by ambulance and was unconscious at the time.
“The driver is unconscious. He has been sent to hospital by ambulance because the helicopter cannot go in these conditions. Further updates will follow. For the moment, we cannot say nothing. I will keep you updated as fast as I can.”
Adrian Sutil, who was at the site of the accident, explained his view of the incident to the media following the race.
“The yellow flags were out,” he said. “I aquaplaned on this corner as the rain got more and more, the stability got less and less.
“One lap later, with waved yellow flags, Jules came around and had the same spin there, and that was it. It was more or less the same crash, it’s just the outcome was a bit different. The car came out to rescue my car and then it all happened.”
The Japanese Grand Prix was affected by torrential rain due to the inbound Typhoon Phanfone, which is set to hit the country tomorrow.
After two laps behind the safety car at the start of the race, FIA race control brought out the red flag to suspend all running due to the wet weather.
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However, just ten minutes later, the decision was taken to restart behind the safety car as conditions improved, and it soon became dry enough for drivers to race on intermediate tires.
In the final few stages of the race, more rain began to fall, causing on-track grip to deteriorate and prompting many to make the switch to full wet tires once again.
Following the accident at turn eight, the race was red flagged for a second time, with the result being declared soon after. Lewis Hamilton extended his championship lead with his third straight victory ahead of Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel. However, celebrations on the podium were muted as news of Bianchi’s accident spread.
We will bring you all of the updates on Bianchi’s condition as the information reaches us.