F1 to Honour the Late Bianchi

Formula One will pay tribute to the memory of Jules Bianchi before the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Formula One will pay tribute to the memory of Jules Bianchi before the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.PHOTO: EPA

Likely minute's silence before Hungarian GP on Sunday; latest safety measures his legacy

LONDON • Formula One will pay tribute to the memory of Jules Bianchi before the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The final race before the sport's summer break will be a sombre affair as news of the death of one of the most popular drivers sinks in.

Christine and Philippe Bianchi announced on Sunday that their son's funeral will take place at the Sainte-Reparate cathedral in Nice this morning.

Tributes have flooded in from drivers and sportsmen around the world since Bianchi succumbed late on Friday night to the terrible head injuries he suffered last October at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Max Chilton, who drove with the Frenchman at Marussia, dedicated his maiden win in the American Indy Lights series last Saturday to his former team-mate.

Bernie Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, wants the sport to mark publicly the demise of one of its own, probably with a minute's silence before the race in Hungary.

"It is only right that we pay tribute to a fine young man and a fine driver who was so unfortunate," the Briton said.

"It is one of the risks of a high-speed sport and it is so sad that Jules paid the ultimate price."

Bianchi, 25, was being lined up by Ferrari as the man to replace Kimi Raikkonen , according to the team's former chairman Luca di Montezemolo. He had come through Ferrari's driver academy and maintained close ties with Maranello.

"Jules was one of us," Montezemolo told Sky Sports Italia yesterday. "He was part of the Ferrari family and the driver we had chosen for the future, once the collaboration with Raikkonen was finished (at the end of this year)."

Former Ferrari principal Stefano Domenicali told Sky that the team had big plans for Bianchi, who joined Ferrari's academy in 2009 and was a test driver for the team.

"Jules was always at Maranello," said the Italian. "Every day he came to the factory to grow and nurture his dream of driving for Ferrari.

"Our idea was that, after Marussia, he should go to another team to grow and be ready for the big leap. That is what we planned some years ago. But unfortunately fate took him away."

Bianchi had been tipped for a move to Ferrari-powered Sauber - the team who also served as a springboard to the Scuderia for Brazilian Felipe Massa - this year as part of his career development.

His legacy will be on the grid in Hungary, where Manor Grand Prix, who rose from the financial collapse of Marussia, will compete, thanks to £30 million (S$64 million) worth of prize money Bianchi won at last year's Monaco GP. He scored the team's only points in five seasons of trying.

Each one of the 50 team members in Hungary will remember - and thank - their driver and friend for that this weekend.

THE TIMES, LONDON,

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2015, with the headline 'F1 to Honour the Late Bianchi'. Print Edition | Subscribe