French Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi has died nine months after suffering severe head injuries in a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

The 25-year-old had been in a coma since crashing his Marussia car into a recovery vehicle in wet conditions in Suzuka last October.

His family said: “Jules fought right to the very end, as he always did, but today his battle came to an end.”

Marussia, now known as Manor, said the team was “devastated”.

Bianchi died in hospital near his parents’ home in Nice in the south of France.

His family said: “We thank Jules’s colleagues, friends, fans and everyone who has demonstrated their affection for him over these past months, which gave us great strength and helped us deal with such difficult times.

Jules Bianchi

“Listening to and reading the many messages made us realise just how much Jules had touched the hearts and minds of so many people all over the world.”

Bianchi made his F1 debut with Marussia in 2013 and was also a member of the Ferrari young driver academy after previously working as a test driver for the team.

The Manor team tweeted  : “We are devastated to lose Jules after such a hard-fought battle. It was a privilege to have him race for our team.”

The accident happened when Bianchi’s car slid off the track and into a crane picking up German driver Adrian Sutil, who had crashed at the same spot one lap earlier.

Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi

A working group of the sport’s governing body, the FIA, investigated the accident and found that as Bianchi went off the track into the run-off area, he “applied both throttle and brake together, using both feet” over-riding the fail-safe mechanism. His front wheels had also locked.

It also said that Bianchi “did not slow sufficiently to avoid losing control”.

Bianchi is the first F1 driver to die from injuries sustained in a Grand Prix since Brazilian triple world champion Ayrton Senna was killed at Italy’s Imola circuit in 1994.

The world of motorsport has been paying tribute to Bianchi.

“No words can describe what his family & the sport have lost. All I can say it was a pleasure knowing & racing you,” tweeted British driver Max Chilton  .

“Rest in peace dear Jules! We lost a great fighter today. All my thoughts are with you and your family,” tweeted  endurance racer Andre Lotterer.



How the incident unfolded

Adrian Sutil aquaplanes and crashes into the tyre barriers on lap 43

Jules Bianchi hits the recovery vehicle attending Sutil’s crash

The medical car and ambulance are deployed on lap 45

The race is red-flagged and declared over, with the race result counted back to after 44 laps