• F1 driver Bianchi ‘critical but stable’, family at bedside in Japan

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    YOKKAICHI, Japan: The parents of Formula One driver Jules Bianchi arrived at his bedside in Japan Monday where he is in a critical but stable condition after one of the sport’s worst crashes in nearly two decades.

    Philippe and Christine Bianchi entered the hospital without speaking to journalists, as a row brewed in the rarefied world of F1 over why race organisers had pressed ahead with their planned 3pm start time when such heavy rain was expected.

    The young French driver careened out of control on a rain-sodden circuit at Suzuka on Sunday, smashing into a recovery vehicle near the end of the Japanese Grand Prix.

    Formula One’s governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), said the 25-year-old Marussia driver had suffered a “severe head injury” and was “critical but stable”.

    The hospital was refusing to comment on the driver’s condition, citing patient privacy and directing enquiries to the FIA.

    FIA press officer Matteo Bonciani, who is close to Bianchi, said “it should be understood that it is very, very serious,” talking to journalists at the hospital near the Suzuka circuit.

    Bianchi’s parents will meet his medical team on Tuesday morning, Bonciani added.

    An Agence France-Presse reporter at the scene said Marussia team principal John Booth and team general manager Graeme Lowdon had both been at the facility during the day.

    Both men appeared to have slept little and deflected questions on the driver’s condition.

    In a statement, the team thanked fans for the “huge outpouring of support and affection for Jules and the Team”.

    They said information about the driver’s condition would only be released with the blessing of his family.

    “Together with Jules’ care, they will remain our highest priority. Therefore, we would ask for patience and understanding with regard to further medical updates, which will be communicated in conjunction with the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, where Jules is being treated, when they feel it is appropriate.

    “Representatives of the Marussia F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari will remain at the hospital to support Jules and the Bianchi family.”

    An unconscious Bianchi had to be removed from the wreckage of his car after the horror smash, which happened as he ploughed into a recovery vehicle lifting Adrian Sutil’s prone Sauber away from danger after the German had skidded into a wall on lap 42.

    AFP

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