Jules Bianchi has been laid to rest in his home town of Nice following a funeral attended by numerous leading figures of Formula One.
Bianchi competed in 34 races during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, scoring the first ever championship points for Manor then known as Marussia by finishing ninth at last year’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Church bells sounded during the funeral and solemn applause resonated as Bianchi’s family carried his coffin inside Sainte Reparate Cathedral.
Two giant portraits of Bianchi in full racing gear adorned the walls either side of the cathedral’s main entrance. After the funeral, current drivers posed for a moment of quiet reflection around his coffin – which had Bianchi’s helmet placed on the end – outside the cathedral.
Other attendees included executives from the Manor-Marussia F1 team, FIA president Jean Todt and his son Nicolas, Bianchi’s manager. Nine months after his horror crash during the Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka, Bianchi died on July 17, 2015 from head injuries sustained in the October 5 accident. “He was a champion blessed with a rare talent, as well as being a young man whose stature was as high as the depth of his humility”.
Among those in attendance were former world champions Alain Prost, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel, along with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton. The driver was being lined up as an eventual replacement for Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
He was the first F1 driver to die as a result of injuries sustained at a grand prix weekend since Ayrton Senna. The three-times world champion was killed at the San Marino Grand Prix on 1 May, 1994.
It was announced on Monday that the FIA would permanently retire the number 17 that Bianchi used.