F1 drivers pay tribute to Bianchi

They wiped away their tears, pulled down their visors and went racing again.

Formula One’s leading drivers paid a final formal tribute to their colleague Jules Bianchi during a minute’s silence ahead of Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the final race before the mid-season break.

Standing in a closed circle, arms across backs and shoulders to include each man and Bianchi’s family, they laid their own helmets on the ground.

When Bianchi’s father Philippe and mother Christine, his brother and sister, and his manager Nicolas Todt, arrived, the group took them in, heads bowed in a ring of linked arms.

The helmet of Bianchi, who died on July 17 from injuries sustained when he crashed into a recovery vehicle in torrential rain at last October’s Japanese Grand Prix, was laid alongside them.

His racing number 17, the sport’s ruling body the International Motoring Federation (FIA) said this week, was laid to rest too.

The Marussia team, for which Bianchi had scored such a valuable points finish at last year’s Monaco Grand Prix, stood as a group in tribute. “We miss you Jules,” their banner declared.

The silence was observed with a grim and emotional stillness before a musical note signalled a singing of the Hungarian anthem.

And then the drivers were leaning in to collect their helmets and stride away towards the starting grid.

Bianchi’s parents and family had arrived at the Hungaroring racing circuit on Sunday morning to attend the ceremony, apparently flown there on Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone’s private jet.

Bianchi was the first F1 driver to die as a result of a racing accident since three-time champion Brazilian Ayrton Senna at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in 1994.

Bianchi was laid to rest in Nice on Tuesday and a minute’s silence was planned to take place 15 minutes before Sunday’s 70-lap race.

All the teams and their drivers have carried stickers and tributes on their cars and helmets carrying messages including ‘Ciao Jules’ and #JB17 this weekend.

His Marussia team chief Graeme Lowdon said Friday Bianchi was universally liked and his death had “touched an awful lot of people.”

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