Manor Marussia F1 Team founder and team principal John Booth has paid tribute to Jules Bianchi after the Frenchman died last night at the age of 25.
Bianchi sustained a diffuse axonal injury in an accident at last October’s Japanese Grand Prix after colliding with a recovery vehicle, leaving him hospitalized in a coma.
After a nine-month fight, it was confirmed by the Bianchi family last night that Jules had passed away in Nice, France.
Bianchi spent his entire F1 career with Marussia F1 Team, with his finest hour coming at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix.
Against all the odds, Bianchi fought through the field to finish ninth and score the only points in the six-season history of the team, winning widespread acclaim from the F1 world.
Earlier this year, Booth revealed that this result had in fact saved the Marussia operation from collapse, allowing it to be revived as Manor in 2015.
In a statement issued on Saturday morning, Booth paid tribute to Bianchi both as a racing driver and as a human being.
“Words cannot describe the enormous sadness within our team this morning, as we come to terms with losing Jules,” Booth said.
“He has left an indelible mark on all our lives, and will forever be part of everything we have achieved, and everything we will strive for going forward.
“Jules was a shining talent. He was destined for great things in our sport; success he so richly deserved. He was also a magnificent human being, making a lasting impression on countless people all over the world.
“They recognized, as did we, that at the same time as being a fiercely motivated racer, he was also an extremely warm, humble and intensely likeable person, who lit up our garage and our lives.
“We are incredibly grateful that we were able to provide Jules with the opportunity to show the world what he could do in a Formula 1 car. We knew we had a very special driver on our hands from the first time he drove our car in pre-season testing in 2013. It has been an honor to be able to consider him our race driver, our team-mate, and of course our friend.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the wonderful Bianchi family, who have remained so strong for Jules throughout the past nine months. In turn, Jules was an absolute credit to them.
“Finally, we would like to thank everyone who has supported Jules since his accident in Japan last October. Your kindness has been such a source of comfort to his family and to us, his team. We will rely on your continued support over the coming days and months as we race on for Jules.”
Booth’s tribute has been joined by countless tweets and messages of support as the motorsport world comes to terms with the news of Jules’ passing.