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It will be three years ago, on Friday (20 May) when Jules Bianchi enjoyed his finest day in Formula 1, finishing ninth in the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix for Marussia, the sports perennial backmarker team at the time
Bianchi said after the race, “Wow. What a race and what a result for the whole Team. I am just incredibly happy, but first of all I have to pay credit to everyone at the Marussia F1 Team for making this possible. Nobody knows just how much work and determination goes into our races.”
The drive on the day, from the back of the grid, was packed with drama and sublime skill, including two stop and go penalties, as well as some choice overtakes – a memorable one on Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi – around the notorious confines of the Monte Carlo street circuit.
“It felt like a victory to me, Even if it does not mean so much for others, for us this ninth place is like a win. I am thrilled that I have helped them to achieve their long-held target of our first points.”
“To achieve them together makes me very proud. My thanks to everyone here in Monaco, the rest of the Team in Banbury and also to our powertrain partners, Scuderia Ferrari, because together we have all made great progress, particularly since the Barcelona Test. This gave us the confidence to push and we certainly did that here this weekend.”
“It was not an easy race; there were some enjoyable highs along the way, but also a couple of concerning moments too. What matters at the end is that we got there and we can savour the highlights for a long time to come. I would also like to thank the Ferrari Driver Academy, who support me every step of my career.”
At the time Bianchi also admitted that Monaco 2014 could be the turning point in his career, “It can only help, but as for the future, we will have to see as the season progresses. I do feel ready for a top team.”
And that team would, most likely, have been Ferrari…
Bianchi’s manager, Nicolas Todt, said on the day, “It is often said that Monaco is a driver circuit. Yes, he benefitted from what happened in the race but when you see his lap times, he had the pace.”
Alas fate had other plans.
On 5 October 2014, during the Japanese Grand Prix, Bianchi collided with a recovery vehicle, suffering a diffuse axonal injury. He underwent emergency surgery and was placed into an induced coma, and remained comatose until his death on 17 July 2015.”
It is generally accepted that the young Frenchman was destined for great things in Formula 1, but his life was cut short so tragically with so much promise unfulfilled.
The Rue du Sapin, the street address of the Allianz Riviera football stadium in nearby Nice, was re-named in 2016 to Rue Jules Bianchi in his honour.