F1 driver Bianchi’s funeral held in home city Nice

Nice, July 21 (IANS) French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi’s funeral was held on Tuesday in his hometown here, while the sport’s governing body FIA announced it was retiring his car number “17” from F1 in his honour.

Family, friends and some colleagues attended the funeral at Sainte Reparate Cathedral, and fans gathered outside mourning with flowers and pictures of the 25-year-old driver, reports Xinhua.

Bianchi died on Friday as a result of severe head injuries after having been in a coma since crashing his Marussia car into a recovery vehicle at rain-hit 2014 Japanese Grand Prix on October 5.

His family said in a statement released through the driver’s Twitter handle that “Jules fought right to the very end, as he always did, but today his battle came to an end”.

The Marussia team, now known as Manor, later confirmed his death and said Bianchi had left an “indelible mark on all our lives”.

Bianchi is the first F1 driver to die from injuries sustained in a Grand Prix since Brazilian triple world champion Ayrton Senna was killed at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola in 1994.

A number of F1 colleagues travelled to Nice to pay their respects, namely Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Williams’ Felipe Massa, as well as former Toyota test driver Olivier Panis.

Among the mourners was four-time F1 world champion Alain Prost, who was the arch-rival of Senna in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Tributes are expected to be paid at Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend.

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