SUZUKA, Japan (AP) – Formula One team Marussia has hit back at claims it contributed to Jules Bianchi’s life-threatening crash at the Japanese Grand Prix by urging him to ignore yellow warning flags.
Marussia refuted news reports that Bianchi had been told to ignore the yellow flags and keep racing at full pace in the wet and dim conditions at the race earlier this month, saying the claims were “entirely false.”
The French driver lost control of his car and went off the circuit, hitting a mobile crane that was inside the trackside barriers to collect another car. Bianchi remains in a hospital in Japan in a critical condition with severe head injuries.
“At a time when its driver is critically ill in hospital and the team has made clear its highest priority is consideration for Jules and his family, (Marussia) is distressed to have to respond to deeply upsetting rumours and inaccuracies in respect of the circumstances of Jules’ accident,” the team said in a statement released Wednesday.
Marussia said telemetry data from the car showed Bianchi did slow in the part of the track where marshals were waving yellow flags.
Marussia said this data had been provided to the FIA and Charlie Whiting, the race director for F1’s governing body, had examined it and confirmed that Bianchi did reduce speed.
The team also provided to the FIA a full transcript of its radio communication with Bianchi during the race at the Suzuka circuit, and said that transcript showed that the team never made any instruction for him to ignore the yellow flags.
Earlier, Marussia said there had been no improvement in Bianchi’s condition, adding that “a number of medical challenges have needed to be overcome and the situation remains challenging.”
Bianchi’s parents and siblings have been beside his hospital bed since the accident, and his father Philippe said he still fears the worst outcome.
“Every time the phone rings we know it could be the hospital to say Jules is dead,” Philippe Bianchi said in an interview with Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The doctors have said that it is already a miracle; that nobody has ever survived such a serious accident, but Jules does not give up.
“One day he seems a little better, another a bit worse. The doctors don’t say. The damage in the impact was great, but they don’t know how it will evolve.”