Hollande leads tributes to F1’s Bianchi

French President Francois Hollande led the

flood of tributes Saturday to Jules Bianchi, the Formula One driver who has

died nine months after a horror crash at the Japanese Grand Prix.

“French motorsport has lost one of its greatest hopes,” Hollande wrote in a

statement following news of Bianchi’s death aged 25 on Friday night at a

hospital in Nice.

“My thoughts are with his parents, his family and his friends.”

Bianchi tragically became the first driver to perish in a F1 Grand Prix

since Ayrton Senna died at San Marino in 1994.

Over two decades on Senna’s arch rival, four-time world champion Alain

Prost, paid his own tribute to Bianchi.

“We will always remember Jules. Fond thoughts for his family and fiends,”

Prost wrote on Twitter about his fellow Frenchman.

Senna’s nephew, racing driver Bruno, said: “My strong thoughts go to Jules

Bianchi’s family. Hope the lessons we learned will stop more tragedies like

these from happening. RIP”

Bianchi had high hopes one day of taking a seat at Ferrari, having passed

through the Italian stable’s Drivers Academy in 2009.

And the legendary Italian team posted their own Twitter tribute: “Ciao

Jules, forever in the hearts of Ferrari.”

Francois Fillon, a former French Prime Minister and an ardent F1 fan said:

“A sad and brutal awakening with the cruel news of death @Jules_Bianchi. Jules

talent and courage in its purest form. Thoughts for his entourage.”

Bianchi’s team Marussia, now called Manor, said the talented 25-year-old

driver had in the short time he was with them left an “indelible mark on all

our lives”.

“Words cannot describe the enormous sadness within our team this morning,

as we come to terms with losing Jules,” a team statement read.

“He has left an indelible mark on all our lives, and will forever be part

of everything we have achieved, and everything we will strive for going

forward.”

Former F1 world champion Jenson Button described Bianchi as “a truly great

guy and a real fighter”.

Mario Andretti, the 1978 F1 world champion, commented: “My heartfelt

condolences to the @Jules_Bianchi family for this very sad ending of a

promising young life. My prayers are with you. #RIPJules”

Bianchi’s compatriot Romain Grosjean wrote: “Yesterday we lost one of the

best guys and best drivers I’ve ever met. I’ll miss you so much my friend.”

Bianchi’s teammate Max Chilton tweeted: “No words can describe what his

family and the sport have lost. All I can say it was a pleasure knowing &

racing you.”

Australia’s Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo said: ” I’ll never forget you and the good times we had. Going to miss you bro.”

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