May 21, 2015

MONACO (AP) The father of injured Formula One driver Jules Bianchi says his son's medical condition is ''stagnant'' as he continues to fight for his life following a horrific crash last year.

It was at last year's Monaco GP that the French driver secured a ninth-place finish, the best in the short history of the team then known as Marussia.

Several months later, Bianchi sustained a horrific accident at a gloomy, rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix in October and has been in a life-threatening coma since.

He is still recovering from his head injuries in Nice, which is close to Monaco.

''The first thing is that Jules is alive, that's the most important thing for us. He's fighting with the weapons that he has. In neurological terms I'm not sure he is able to do much now,'' Philippe Bianchi said Thursday in an interview with Canal Plus television. ''The situation is stagnant, Jules' neurological progress is not what we would like it to be.''

Struggling to contain his emotion, he added:

''Every day, when we get up, the telephone is by our side. When we get up every morning, we think of Jules' life, we think also of his death, because we have to think about death.''

A month after his crash, the highly promising driver was taken out of an artificial coma and repatriated from Japan to a hospital in Nice. Although still critical, he was breathing unaided one month later.

''Seeing him fighting gives a lot of hopes to his loved ones and it's important for us,'' he told Canal Plus. ''While there is life, there is hope, even though after a while you are hoping for a miracle. Every day is difficult.''

Bianchi's team, which is now known as Manor, is wearing red wristbands - the color of the team - during this weekend's race as a tribute to the 25-year-old Bianchi, who crashed in Suzuka on Oct. 5.

His car slid off the track and plowed head-first into a crane picking up the Sauber of German driver Adrian Sutil, who crashed at the same spot one lap earlier. The section of the track where the accident occurred was subject to double yellow flags from race stewards because of Sutil's crash. But they failed to prevent a second accident.

''I think we all stopped living that day, the fifth of October. It's something you can never expect,'' Philippe Bianchi said. ''It's not what Jules wants, being a hospital bed. It's not his life, it's not what we want either. But we have to keep hope.''

Bianchi's father keeps his hopes alive by remembering his son's brilliant drive last year - and his reaction after it.

''It was Jules' dream to score points in Formula One, and he did it with Marussia,'' he said. ''I was there and I was lucky enough, when Jules finished the Grand Prix, that I was the first person he took into his arms - because I was on my own when he finished. Those are incredible moments.''

The Formula One community has closed ranks in support of Bianchi, whose parents regularly receive messages of support.

''Jules is here, despite the (accident) he had, he's still here and he's fighting. I think all of these people thinking about him give Jules strength. I think he can feel it and it's beautiful, we're very touched by it,'' added Philippe Bianchi.

A 10-man working group was set up to review the accident. That led to a new safety measure being approved in the form of a ''virtual safety car'' which can be used to neutralize a race on the orders of a course clerk.

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