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Moving tributes in Hungary paddock as F1 drivers prepare to 'race for Jules'

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Moving tributes in Hungary paddock as F1 drivers prepare to 'race for Jules'
Jul 23, 2015, 4:41 PM

The atmosphere in the Hungaroring paddock was predictably somewhat subdued today as the F1 teams, drivers and media arrived for the start of the Hu...

The atmosphere in the Hungaroring paddock was predictably somewhat subdued today as the F1 teams, drivers and media arrived for the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.

Thoughts are very much on Jules Bianchi, who passed away last weekend, following injuries sustained in the Japanese Grand Prix. The drivers were mostly open and willing to discuss their feelings on his death, memories of him and also made the point that they would race hard on Sunday as that is what he would have wanted them to do.

Many of the drivers had known Bianchi well, especially Fernando Alonso, who worked alongside him at Ferrari for three years and went on many training camps and other events away from the circuit.

"I had a close relationship with him," said Alonso. "It's a tough weekend for all of us because we will race after losing him. I had the privilege to know him outside the track with Ferrari. We played cards, football matches, trained together. I didn't on'y know Jules as a talented racing driver, I knew him as a person.

"He was very talented, he was very close to Ferrari and maybe he should drive for Ferrari one day, or even sooner than was the plan, it's tough."

Alonso said that the best tribute the drivers could pay to their fallen colleague will be for them to go out and race in his honour on Sunday.

"All of us want to pay tribute to Jules as we knew him and as we shared with him out passion which is motorsport and racing. We want to go out there and put on a good show for everyone and for Jules.

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo recalls becoming friends in Italy with the Frenchman and being stunned when Bianchi ate two high calorie Italian flatbread snacks called piedina in a sitting,

"He was one of the first mates I had in Europe when I moved over in 2007," he said. "We spent a lot of time together in Viareggio. We were eating these piedina with nutella and coconut. I have a sweet tooth but I was done after one. Jules went in for a second one and he was a very highly regarded driver at that time and I thought, "Maybe I can relax a bit and not be so serious on myself!"

"It's sad to look back on photos but every photo he had a lot of grace about him, Despite being very competitive and highly regarded he was very humble. And he was good fun to hang out with,"

Ricciardo has "Always in my heart #17" written in pen on the underside of his baseball cap this weekend.

Felipe Massa, another former Ferrari colleague who also shared a manager with Bianchi, was very moved at the funeral in Nice on Tuesday and today he spoke calmly and at length of his feelings,

"He was a great friend. [When] I met him he was still racing in go-karts, because we have the same manager. [When manager] Nicolas [Todt] started to work with Jules he was still at the end of his go-kart career and I met him in that time.

"For me he was a fantastic boy, very nice, very humble and an amazing driver. Unfortunately in Formula One he didn’t have the opportunity to race in a competitive car; to show his talent. He showed us anyway by finishing in the points in Monaco… it was an amazing thing he did in that race.

"But for me the experience I had with Jules was also that we did a lot of go-kart together, even in Brazil, and in my experience he was the best go-kart driver I saw. It was amazing the way he was driving go-karts. It was maybe the opportunity we had to race together in a similar kart.

"It was so difficult to be there in the church, to understand what’s happened, it was so sad. But I’m sure he is in a good place, racing, enjoying and definitely looking here to all of us, from whatever place he is, I don’t know, but I think he was an amazing boy and a fantastic driver that I really hope the best for his family as well. It was a very difficult day to be there."

Nico Hulkenberg

The drivers all agreed that Bianchi's death would not dampen their competitive fire and they would not back off in any way this weekend in light of his death,

"I mean it opens your eyes and tells us what we’re doing, the sport we’re doing, there’s still some risk involved," said Force India's Nico Hulkenberg. "I think you just have to be aware of that and make your own choices at times in the car, how much risk you’re willing to take, and be comfortable with it. Yeah, I think for me, personally, it won’t change much."

Felipe Massa added, "I don’t think it changes. When you close your visor, you want the best, you want to finish in front, and you want to do the best you can and manoeuvre overtaking, the way you drive, your thinking, I don’t think it will change.

"When I had my accident here, when I start driving again here in Hungary, always when I pass that place I don’t remember that I had the accident there. So, you don’t think about it, it stays in the past.

"Maybe when you go out of the car you remember about Jules or about other things which is… now I remember about my accident but when I’m driving, I don’t know, y’know? I don’t even think I have a mother, father, my son, my wife or whatever, you don’t think about it. You just think about your job, your work. I don’t think that will change. But now, I have Jules all the time on my mind."

Many teams and drivers are carrying individual messages on the cars and helmets this weekend and a minute's silence will be observed on the grid on Sunday, 15 minutes before the race start.

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