Widely-regarded. Hugely talented. Touted as future world championship material. Was a definitive product of the decorated Ferrari Driver’s academy. He was someone who was very young when he rubbed shoulders with the greats of the sport, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen.
But imagine how hard it is for a family, friends, a racing fraternity and legions of fans to lose a talent bright like the sunshine at 25?
How unquantifiable is the pain to lose out on someone who was destined for greatness, someone on whom the sun set early, way too early? Had Jules Bianchi been alive today, he’d have been just 32.
Ricciardo is all of 32. Perez will get there in a year’s time. Both drivers are busy moulding their promising talent into justifiable, creditable results.
But one man, who should’ve been around the Ricciardo, Perez lot, someone who by now would’ve already become an inspiration to the quartet of youngsters- Verstappen, Norris, Leclerc, and Gasly, isn’t there anymore.
This wasn’t meant to be. This was simply unjust. Who wrote that script? Treacherous. Sordid. Endlessly grievous.
And it’s been six long years since he was last spotted doing what he loved, what he was born to do- race cars for a living and put his smiling mugshot on trendy headlines.
While the battle is here on the tarmac, amid the pulsating highs of the track, Jules Bianchi is watching all of them from above from a mystical land above the Earth where the likes of Senna, Villeneuve, Hunt, Lauda reside.
And yet, it feels it was just yesterday when Jules Bianchi showed massive signs of potential, of talent second to none that would someday race for Ferrari.
Just imagine the plight of those who’d seen him alive, like a live wire of a talent; witnessing the accident that caused the demise of a young man in that same year in which he’d scored his first Formula 1 points?
We’ll never forget Jules. Just like we will never forget the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, where despite competing in a recalcitrant Marussia, the amiable Frenchman with that innocent smile emerged with a P9.
It was to be a fighting performance that gave the driver, and his team, two solid points and thus got the Marussia campaign underway in a year that was all about Lewis Hamilton-show.
It was a year where Formula 1 had already experienced a massive change with the beginning of the turbo-hybrid engines. It was a year where none- no fan or pundit- was ever prepared to experience any more of any other change.
What hurts about Jules Bianchi isn’t just how early he went, the rain-infested ill-fated Japanese Grand Prix of 2014, where his Marussia would skid out of the track and make rampant contact with a crane parked at the side of a corner.
What hurts and shall always is that Jules was already beginning to show his mettle, how strong he was, having already competed in 34 races.
And that’s all it was; 34 Grands Prix at the highest level of single-seater racing in the world.
Where most drivers aim to, at least, compete in 50 races, and if skill and talent side with the, then aim for 100, Jules’ journey was cut short way too early.
That Formula 1 went ahead with a race as marred by inclement weather at Suzuka as is the Middle East with constant bloodshed and violence, is something none can actually fathom.
Well, not the purist, at least, and well and truly even to this day.
Why wasn’t the Grand Prix stopped in Japan and why didn’t the FIA plan for an alternate date for the event knowing well that both visibility and traction on the track were abysmally low?
Unfortunately, it is a question to which there exists no answer for there’s no implementable action in the realm of the fan. The fan isn’t powered to make changes to the sport it cannot live without.
He can only pass judgment on talents, support teams, and grow the Formula 1 community.
Those that should’ve done something, as a result of which a promising young life could’ve been saved, did nothing.
Would Niki have raced in such an event, or would his utter reluctance have compelled those competing alongside him to step back and see the actual picture?