Tokyo: Horrifying footage has emerged showing the moment Jules Bianchi’s speeding Formula One car smashed into a stationary tractor-crane, leaving him fighting for his life in a Japanese hospital with serious head injuries.

Jules Bianchi
Messages for Marussia driver Jules Bianchi of France are placed at the Mie General Medical Centre in Yokkaichi yesterday. Pic/AFP.

The 25-year-old Frenchman was said to be “critical, but stable” after surgery in the wake of the terrifying smash on a rain-soaked Suzuka circuit on Sunday. Criticism grew yesterday of race organisers, with former world champion Alain Prost weighing in to declaim errors that led to the crash.

The accident...
The spectator film, posted on YouTube, shows his out-of-control Marussia slamming into the back of the yellow recovery vehicle, sparks flying as the body of the car slides underneath its raised rear end. The impact, which appears to be at around Bianchi’s helmet height, shears off the air intake cover that hangs over the back of the driver’s head.

Alain Prost
Alain Prost

Formula One has regularly been rocked by debate over open-top cockpits, which offer drivers little head protection. In slow-motion, the video appears to show Bianchi’s helmet rebounding violently off the heavy lifting vehicle, which is bounced into the air by the force of the impact.

The vehicle was trying to remove Adrian Sutil’s stricken Sauber, which had crashed at the same spot on the circuit a lap earlier. Prost told Europe 1 radio that the removal truck should never have been there. “The entry of this crane (onto the circuit) without the safety car is totally unacceptable. It’s a real mistake that should not be repeated,” he said, Who made the mistake?

“A mistake has been made, that’s obvious. Who made the mistake, I’m still not entirely sure. Was it the race director or the marshals on those bends? Someone must have made the decision to remove Sutil’s car.”

Prost said, re-watching the race, it was clear that things happened which should not have done. “You can see a track marshal waving the green flag just behind the crane, which normally tells drivers that the track is clear. That should have been placed at least 100 metres further down... That’s a mistake by the marshal.”

In an interview to French TV Canal+, Prost said it was not a freak accident. “This is not what I would call a ‘normal’ accident. A mistake has been made,” Prost was quoted as saying. “For me, it’s not a freak accident, and this makes me very angry.” Bianchi’s parents, Philippe and Christine, were joined at their son’s hospital bedside by celebrated French surgeon Gérard Saillant.