Andrei Cheglakov, the Russian tycoon who owned the Marussia Formula One team, pulled out of the sport as he could not bear to continue following the accident involving his driver Jules Bianchi, who died on Friday, The Independent can reveal.
The 25-year-old Frenchman will be buried today in his hometown of Nice after spending the last nine months in a coma following an accident at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, where he suffered severe head injuries after crashing into a crane in wet weather.
Marussia went into administration just weeks after Bianchi’s accident and it was widely thought that Cheglakov had pulled the plug after the team had burned up total losses of £144m since it launched in 2010. However, he said: “The accident was a letter that made me think now is the time to leave. After what happened in Japan I was so deeply depressed because you have a responsibility for people working for you.”
Cheglakov said that driving on the limit had been the hallmark Bianchi, whose No 17 has been retired in his honour by the FIA. “You never push a button without knowing not only the risk but how far beyond you want to go. So there are no limits, you just go straight for it otherwise you are not a champion. Ayrton Senna is the role model for all of them.”
The team’s last race was the Russian Grand Prix and Cheglakov said he kept it going until then so it was not “unfair to my country”. Cheglakov said he had tried but failed to find an investor for the team, which is now known as Manor after being bought out of administration by British businessman Stephen Fitzpatrick.Reuse content