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F1 drivers turn out in force for Jules Bianchi's funeral

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F1 drivers turn out in force for Jules Bianchi's funeral
Jul 21, 2015, 1:46 PM

Time was when current Grand Prix drivers would regularly have to put on a black tie and attend the funeral of a fallen colleague.

Time was when current Grand Prix drivers would regularly have to put on a black tie and attend the funeral of a fallen colleague. This was certainly true of the 1970's.

In fact since F1 began in 1950 there has only been one decade when F1 did not suffer a fatality and that was the 2000s.

Today in Nice the F1 drivers together with a number of senior figures from the sport like FIA president Jean Todt, Alain Prost and team principals Toto Wolff, John Booth and Eric Boullier were at the Sainte Reparate Cathedral, Nice, to pay their last respects to Bianchi, who became the first F1 fatality since Ayrton Senna in 1994.

As with Senna's funeral some of his fellow drivers carried Bianchi's coffin.

Bianchi funeral

Most of the leading drivers were there including Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo,Romain Grosjean, Daniil Kvyat, Nico Hulkenberg, Roberto Mehri and Marcus Ericsson, while Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado, who shared Nicolas Todt as a manager with Bianchi were also present. Bianchi's former Marussia team mate Max Chilton was also there as were GPDA stalwarts Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa. Adrian Sutil, whose car was being recovered by the mobile crane that Bianchi hit and Jean Eric Vergne were also there.

After the ceremony the driver got together for a drink in Bianchi's memory.

According to BBC 'Father Sylvain Brison Mourners, told the congregation that Bianchi was "a champion blessed with a rare talent", and mourners applauded the late driver for several minutes.'

In a short speech his family said, "Your courage, your strength and dignity will be engraved forever in us..

"The lack of you will be a painful ordeal. But know that forever, forever, we love you."

Hear French journalist and colleague Daniel Ortelli's account of the day on this link Audio report of Bianchi Funeral

Bianchi died on Saturday as a result of injuries suffered in the Japanese Grand Prix last year.

Jules Bianchi funeral

Bianchi's chosen race number, 17, has been permanently retired by the FIA as a mark of respect to the driver.

This generation of drivers have luckily had little experience of death among their peers. As a measure of how much safer the sport has become, Jackie Stewart lost 57 colleagues during his 11 year career,

"When I was immersed in the aftermath of so many accidents and attending so many funerals, I used to feel pain but hardly ever cried," he said.

"I somehow taught myself to compartmentalise my emotions, to lock them in a box and put them away.

"That enabled me to do whatever needed to be done, whether it was to make arrangements with undertakers or make sure the widow was being looked after. Then I would be able to climb back into my car and go racing again.

"We were so much more than just an itinerant group of professional sportsmen. We were a small, tight-knit group of friends who travelled together, stayed in the same hotels, partied, holidayed together and had wives who became close as well.

"But every now and then, because we were racing in exposed cars on amazingly dangerous circuits, one of us would have a shunt and be killed. As drivers we accepted the risk, partly because we were paid reasonably well, partly because that was just what we did, but mainly because we were stimulated by driving fast and living fast."

Mercifully times have changed, but this must have been a difficult day for the drivers who attended the funeral today and it was a nice touch when Ricciardo tweeted photos of the drivers raising a glass to Bianchi with the message "For Jules".

Photos: Daniel Ricciardo/Twitter
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Family pays funeral tribute to Bianchi's 'courage, strength and dignity'

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Let’s celebrate Jules Bianchi’s life now the mourning is over

Let’s celebrate Jules Bianchi’s life now the mourning is over
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