F1 races on for Bianchi
Championship battles and team-mate rivalries will be put aside for a minute at the Hungaroring today as Formula 1 remembers Jules Bianchi. The affable Frenchman, reportedly the future of Ferrari, died last Saturday after losing his battle to survive the serious head injury he suffered when he crashed in the Japanese GP in October last year.
Family, friends and fellow drivers were in attendance when he was laid to rest in his home town, Nice, on Tuesday.
It was a tragic end to a promising young life and a stark reminder that in spite of the strict safety regulations that go into building F1 cars and circuits, there will always be an element of danger.
But despite that, 20 drivers will take to the track today vowing to “race on and race hard” in memory of Bianchi.
The Hungaroring is one of just a few venues in this year’s calendar where Mercedes are not the defending champions. Last year, Daniel Ricciardo won the Grand Prix ahead of Fernando Alonso while Lewis Hamilton took third place and the ire of his team as he refused to play the team game to help pole-sitter Nico Rosberg’s challenge, which had been outdone by two safety cars.
And although one cannot say with certainty that this year’s race will be different, it will take a brave person to bet against a Mercedes win – or even a Mercedes 1-2.
If the team achieves a double podium, the Brackley squad will make history as the only outfit to ever reach 10 consecutive races with two drivers on the podium.
This has never been achieved in a sport that has been running for more than six decades.
However, their rivals will be holding on to memories of last year in the hope of ending Mercedes’ seven-race winning streak.
At this maximum downforce circuit, where traction and braking play a bigger role than horsepower, main challengers Ferrari will be looking to close the gap and maybe even steal a victory.
Likewise, Williams will be hoping to draw from their recent podium finishes while the result from Monaco – a similar circuit – will inspire Red Bull Racing and even McLaren. Jenson Button and Alonso will be out for points at one of the few tracks where the weakness of their underperforming Honda engines can be negated.
But whatever the outcome and whoever the winner is, it is the silence on the grid at 1.45pm that will strike the most poignant note in Hungary. –