SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — Marussia Formula One driver Jules Bianchi is in critical condition after crashing at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Bianchi was unconscious when he was taken to a nearby hospital following a crash into a crane during Sunday’s rain-shortened race and is undergoing emergency surgery after a scan revealed a severe head injury.
According to FIA officials, Bianchi, 25, will be moved to intensive care where he will be monitored after the surgery.
The race was red-flagged with nine laps to go after Bianchi went off at Turn 7, where Sauber’s Adrian Sutil had crashed earlier. The Sauber was being recovered by a crane when Bianchi went off. Sutil indicated the Frenchman’s car had hit the crane.
“I aquaplaned,” Sutil said. “The rain got more and more. One lap later with waved yellow flags, Jules came around and had the same spin there and that was it. It was the same crash but the outcome was different. The car came out to rescue my car and it all happened.”
Sunday’s race started at 3 p.m. local time. An approaching typhoon led to suggestions that the race would be pushed up to an earlier start.
At the time of the crash, rain was falling steadily and it was getting dark. Several drivers complained of not being able to see properly.
The first nine laps were run behind a safety car and it started to rain heavily again near the end of the race.
FIA issued a statement on the crash.
“On lap 42, Adrian Sutil lost control of his car, spun and hit the tyre barrier on the outside of Turn 7. The marshals displayed double waved yellow flags before the corner to warn drivers of the incident. A recovery vehicle was dispatched in order to lift the car and take it to a place of safety behind the guard rail. While this was being done the driver of car 17, Jules Bianchi, lost control of his car, travelled across the run-off area and hit the back of the tractor.
“Once the marshals reported that the driver was injured, medical teams were dispatched and the safety car was deployed. These were followed by an extrication team and an ambulance. The driver was removed from the car, taken to the circuit medical centre and then by ambulance to Mie General Hospital.
“The CT scan shows that he has suffered a severe head injury and he is currently undergoing surgery. Following 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.”
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the event, ended by a red flag for the crash on the 44th of 53 laps.
It was Hamilton’s third straight victory. Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who started from the pole, was second. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel finished third.
Hamilton widened his lead over Rosberg in the race for the drivers’ championship but the race celebrations were subdued.
“Our first thoughts go to Jules,” Hamilton said. “It overshadows everything else when one of our colleagues is injured and we are praying for him. Next to this, the race result doesn’t seem significant at all.”
Hamilton now leads Rosberg by 10 points with four races remaining.
The rain also disrupted the early stages of the race, with the first nine laps run behind the safety car. After the rain abated and the safety car came off, Hamilton did everything possible to gain on his teammate.
Rosberg held the lead until the 29th lap when Hamilton got a better run onto the pit straight and blasted around the outside of Rosberg into Turn 1 to take the lead for good.
At the start of the race the rain became heavier and the drivers could only complete two cautious laps behind the safety car.
After a 10-minute delay, the race re-started behind the safety car, but Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari ground to a halt with a technical problem. The Spaniard returned to his garage and threw up his arms in frustration.
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, who is a distant third in the drivers’ standings, finished fourth ahead of McLaren driver Jenson Button.
Williams pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa started third and fourth, but both struggled badly in wet conditions and trailed home sixth and seventh.
It wasn’t the first time rain affected the race at Suzuka. In 2004, Saturday’s qualifying session was postponed until race day after torrential rain hit the area.
The next stop on the Formula One calendar is the inaugural Russian GP on Oct. 12, in Sochi, the Black Sea resort that hosted this year’s Winter Olympics.
Beginning this year, a win at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Nov. 23 will be worth 50 points instead of the normal 25 in the hopes of adding more suspense to the season’s finale.
1. Lewis Hamilton, England, Mercedes, 1 hour, 51 minutes, 43.021 seconds, 44 laps.
2. Nico Rosberg, Germany, Mercedes, 1:51:52.201, 44.
3. Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Red Bull, 1:52:12.143, 44.
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Australia, Red Bull, 1:52:21.839, 44.
5. Jenson Button, England, McLaren, 1:52:50.571, 44.
6. Valtteri Bottas, Finland, Williams, 1:53:36.794, 44.
7. Felipe Massa, Brazil, Williams, 1:53:38.147, 44.
8. Nico Hulkenberg, Germany, Force India, 1:53:38.969, 44.
9. Jean-Eric Vergne, France, Toro Rosso, 1:53:50.659, 44.
10. Daniil Kvyat, Russia, Toro Rosso, 1:51:48.409, 43.
11. Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, Ferrari, 1:51:49.838, 43.
12. Esteban Gutierrez, Mexico, Sauber, 1:52:14.678, 43.
13. Kevin Magnussen, Denmark, McLaren, 1:52:22.070, 43.
14. Romain Grosjean, France, Lotus, 1:52:22.780, 43.
15. Pastor Maldonado, Venezuela, Lotus, 1:52:42.898, 43.
16. Marcus Ericsson, Sweden, Caterham, 1:52:50.427, 43.
17. Max Chilton, England, Marussia, 1:53:36.282, 43.
18. Kamui Kobayashi, Japan, Caterham, 1:53:59.121, 43.
Did Not Finish
Sergio Perez, Mexico, Force India, 43.
Jules Bianchi, France, Marussia, 41.
Adrian Sutil, Germany, Sauber, 40.
Fernando Alonso, Spain, Ferrari, 2.
Drivers’ Standings(After 15 of 19 races)
1. Lewis Hamilton, 266 points.
2. Nico Rosberg, 256.
3. Daniel Ricciardo, 193.
4. Sebastian Vettel, 139.
5. Fernando Alonso, 133.
6. Valtteri Bottas, 130.
7. Jenson Button, 82.
8. Nico Hulkenberg, 76.
9. Felipe Massa, 71.
10. Sergio Perez, 46.
11. Kimi Raikkonen, 45.
12. Kevin Magnussen, 39.
13. Jean-Eric Vergne, 21.
14. Romain Grosjean, 8.
15. Daniil Kvyat, 8.
16. Jules Bianchi, 2.
1. Mercedes, 522 points.
2. Red Bull, 332.
3. Williams, 201.
4. Ferrari, 178.
5. Force India, 122.
6. McLaren, 121.
7. Toro Rosso, 29.
8. Lotus, 8.
9. Marussia, 2.