The F1 community remembers & honours Jules Bianchi
I may joke from time to time that I’m on the verge of an F1 career and only need another 290km or so for my Superlicence. Full of the sort of confidence that only three laps in a 2013 Lotus can bring a man, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, from time to time I offer advice to Damon and Johnny on the finer points of race craft.
But in the cold light of day, I know that as much as I’d like to kid myself, I’m no racing driver. In fact, as much as I love sport and playing sport, I’m probably not much a sportsman either. Not in the respect that you can count on me to fire home the winning penalty, or make the 6 foot putt for par, or hit the winning runs, or take out the 170 check out with my opponent waiting on double 16.
I mention that last scenario because it happened once, it really did. But only once and never have I ever come close to repeating the feat, much to the dismay of some of my darting team mates over the years.
You see the fact is that occasionally I can perform, in a sporting context, under pressure and deliver what’s required. But only occasionally, rarely maybe, sometimes more by luck or chance than any skill I possess. And I don’t think I’m alone in this!
In fact I think I’m in very good company here. As sports fans, we love what we see, many of us try and emulate our heroes, but none of us really come close if we’re being honest about it.
Which is why I have the utmost respect for professional sportsman and women when they deliver, perform and excel at the highest level and under the most intense scrutiny week after week.
And as I awake this morning, still breathless and exhausted after a quite sensational Hungarian Grand Prix yesterday, I want to pay tribute to the 20 drivers who took to that track, and delivered two hours of some of the most exciting and emotional sporting drama I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness.
But particularly, because all of this happened, just moments after they stood, arms around each other, in a circle on the grid, silent and heads bowed, in respect for the friend they lost.
The weekend had been full of tributes to Jules Bianchi, full of conversations about the man, his racing and his legacy. At Manor Marussia, his former team mates told stories of how Jules would always be the first person to pitch in should it be all hands to the deck and time running out to fix a problem with the car, or how he’d never be seen without a smile on his face, a man grateful for the chance to be racing in Formula 1.
Fernando Alonso spoke of the week he spent with Jules at a Ferrari training camp and how those 7 happy days would live with him for the rest of his life. Whilst in a quiet moment on Thursday evening, Jules former boss John Booth, a man who through his years in motorsport has run some of the greatest drivers of our generation, told me that as far as he was concerned ‘New drivers would come and go at his team, but that there would never be another Jules, never’.
I’ll be honest, it was a tough weekend all round. But for those who knew him the closest, for his family who bravely returned to a race track not to watch Jules excel but to mourn his absence, and for those that vowed to race in his honour, I can’t imagine the extent of their feelings this weekend.
So for going out there and putting on a truly great race.
For proving to us all with a Hungarian Grand Prix to savour.
For helping us to forget the negatives that so often overshadow this great sport of ours.
And for doing what you all said you would, to race in Jules honour and go flat out to the Chequered Flag in the way he would have wanted and in a way we so wish he was still a part of.
To all of those drivers on the grid yesterday who showed us why they are the superstars and why we are just mere mortals.
Thank you and seriously, well done.