French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi dead
French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi died Friday night from head injuries he suffered in a crash at last October's Japanese Grand Prix, his family said.
Bianchi, who would have been 26 next month, had been in a coma fighting for his life under controlled medical conditions in the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire hospital in his home city of Nice, southern France.
"Jules fought right to the very end, as he always did, but today his battle came to an end," the Bianchi family said in a statement posted on Facebook in the early hours of Saturday.
"The pain we feel is immense and indescribable."
On Monday, his father Pierre said he was "less optimistic" that Jules would make a full recovery after spending nine months in hospital with no signs of "significant progress".
Bianchi joined the Marussia team in 2013 and competed in 34 grands prix, notching two world championship points.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury when his car careered off the rain-drenched Suzuka circuit during the Japanese Grand Prix and smashed into a recovery truck at around 200 kilometres (125 miles) an hour.
Marussia, now called Manor F1, said in a post on Twitter: "We are devastated to lose Jules after such a hard-fought battle. It was a privilege to have him race for our team."
Bianchi's accident, which came as Formula One legend Michael Schumacher was battling back from a horrific ski accident, added to anxiety surrounding the high-octane motor racing circus.
While yellow warning flags were up, racing was still intense when Bianchi crashed and experts said the wet track, his tyres and his speed could all have been to blame for the accident.
Questions have also been raised about whether the marshals should have halted the race after Adrian Sutil's Sauber came off the track on the previous lap.
The Bianchi family in their statement thanked "everyone who has demonstrated their affection for him over these past months, which gave us great strength and helped us deal with such difficult times" and asked for privacy while they grieved.
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