LucienBianchi (1934-1969) was a Belgian racing driver of an Italian origin, who has competed in various racing series and was killed in the crash at Circuit de la Sarthe.
Just six months before his death, he achieved the greatest success of his career on the same race track, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans together with Pedro Rodriguez in a Ford GT40. Between 1960 and 1968, Bianchi recorded 17 starts in Formula One World Championship, scoring one podium by finishing third at 1968 Monaco Grand Prix, where he was driving for Cooper.
Departure from Italy after WW2
Luciano Bianchi was born in November 1934, in Milan, Italy, but after the World War 2, his family moved to Belgium, more specifically to Brussels, where his father, who worked as a mechanic for Alfa Romeo, found a new job.
That’s why it wasn’t a surprise when Lucien, what was his new name, showed interest in motorsports, together with his brother Mauro.
Triple winner of Tour de France
In 1951, still a teenager, Bianchi debuted in the world of racing, driving in Alpine rally. Over the years he has competed in the various sports cars events, most notably in the Tour de France Automobile. In 1957, alongside Olivier Gendebien, he won the title and repeated that success in the following two years driving a Ferrari 250 GT.
Lucien Bianchi'a Ferrari 250
Formula 1 part-timer
The decision to test himself in Formula 1, which was making a first step of becoming a most popular racing series, was logical but he appeared only in a couple of selected events, driving different cars like Cooper, Lotus or Emerson. However, the results weren’t impressive. From 1959 to 1961, as a driver of Equipe National Belge, he has entered eight races but has finished only one, in Belgium, where he took 6th place.
Lucien Bianchi, Cooper, 1968 Monaco Grand Prix
The following years were better as he managed to finish more races. Especially good was the season of 1968 when Lucien Bianchi entered seven races as a driver of Cooper Car Company. That year he finished 3rd in the Monaco Grand Prix, behind Graham Hill and Richard Attwood. Interestingly, that was his first drive with a new team. The last Bianchi’s F1 appearing was the Mexican Grand Prix but he couldn’t finish it after he has retired on lap 21.
Endurance racing was Lucien's priority
Bianchi’s spell in Formula 1 wasn’t glorious, and he was definitely better in the endurance racing. He won many endurance races in France, later won Nurburgring 500 race, Watkins Glen 6 hours and 12 hours of Sebring.
Lucien and Mauro Bianchi
In 1968, driving a Ford GT40 alongside Pedro Rodriguez, Lucien Bianchi won 24 Hours of Le Mans. During that race, his brother Mauro was badly injured in the fiery accident. In January of 1969, Bianchi also competed in the super marathon London – Sydney, driving a Citroen with Jean-Claude Ogier. They led the race before retirement because of the crash with a non-racing vehicle.
Bianchi family tragedy
Lucien planned to defend his Le Mans crown with Alfa Romeo T33, but a set of circumstances prevented him. During testing for the race, Bianchi’s car spun due to mechanical failure and hit a telegraph pole beside Mulsanne straight. The crash was so powerful that Bianchi was killed instantly. After brother’s death, Mauro Bianchi decided to retire from the racing.
Lucien Bianchi, 1968 Le Mans 24 Hours
Sadly, that wasn’t the last tragedy that hit Bianchi's family. Mauro’s grandson and Formula 1 driver Jules died in 2015, nine months after the horrible accident at Suzuka Circuit.