Marussia driver Jules Bianchi was left unconscious following a crash at the Japanese Grand Prix – which had been affected by rain for the majority of the race.
The Frenchman came off the track in the same place where Sauber’s Adrian Sutil had done so on the previous lap and the race was stopped as a result – the second red flag of the afternoon.
FIA media delegate Matteo Bonciani confirmed Bianchi has since been rushed to hospital, with early reports suggesting his Marussia crashed into the digger being utilised to move Sutil’s car at turn seven.
“The driver is unconscious,” Bonciani said.
“He has been sent to hospital by ambulance because the helicopter cannot go in these conditions. Further updates will follow. For the moment, we cannot say anything.”
The running of the race had been under threat all week as Typhoon Phanfone approached Japan from the Pacific Ocean and the event had already been red-flagged after just two laps after the race began under safety car conditions.
The race continued after the weather cleared up but the rain began to fall in the closing stages ahead of both Sutil and Bianchi’s accidents.
Niki Lauda, who famously refused to drive in torrential rain at the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix and effectively handed the title to James Hunt in the process, defended the decision to run this year's race - although did question why the start time had not been moved in anticipation of poor weather.
“Motor racing is dangerous,” the three-time world champion said.
“We get used to it if nothing happens and then suddenly we’re all surprised.
“But we always have to be aware that motor racing is very dangerous and this accident today is the coming together of various difficult things. One car goes off, the truck comes out and then the next car goes off. It was very unfortunate.
“In the end the rain was not the real issue of the race. There were safety cars put in and the race was run safe more or less to the end so it could have been run to the end without the accident.
“They started with the safety car and there was nothing wrong, you can’t say anything was done wrong. It was started the most sensible way.
“They could have started earlier, there is no question about it. It would have been possible to start the race at one – in the end that would have been better.”
Sutil, who showed no physical signs that his own accident had caused any harm, questioned why a safety car had not been deployed to slow down the drivers still in the race as his car was moved by the truck into which Bianchi appears to have hit.
“The car came out to rescue my car and then it all happened,” he said.
“With respect to this corner I think everyone knows this is one of the most tricky corners and when it is getting late and the rain increases, let’s say when you have an accident there you should probably think about a safety car.
“It was quite difficult. In the end we got more rain and it was dark so visibility was getting less and less and this corner was a tricky one the whole way through.
“In the end, when it got dark, you couldn’t see where the wet patches were and that is why I lost the car and it really surprised me.
“It was the same as what happened to me, he had aquaplaning but just one lap later.
“It hit him hard. That is all I can say. I have no information about how he is but I really hope for him that it is all okay and my thoughts are with him.
“I was just standing there, we know that it is serious at the moment.”