Formula 1's drivers say Jules Bianchi's death will not change the way they approach their job or the way they drive.
Bianchi succumbed to the injuries he sustained at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix last weekend. He had been in a coma for more than nine months and was laid to rest on Tuesday in his home town of Nice.
All the drivers in Thursday's official FIA press conference, ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, paid tribute to 25-year-old, but when quizzed on the ramifications, were adamant it will not affect what they do on the race-track.
“I don't think it changes [how you drive],” said Felipe Massa. “When you close your visor you want the best - you want to finish in front and you want to do the best you can. Manoeuvres, overtaking, the way you drive, your thinking, I don't think it will change.
“I remember when I had my accident here. When I started driving again here in Hungary, always when I pass in that place I don't remember I had the accident there. You don't think about it – it stays in the past. Maybe when you get out of the car you will remember about Jules or other things. Now I remember about my accident but when I am driving I don't. I don't even think I have a mother, a father, my son, my wife or whatever, you don't think about it. You just think about your job and your work and I don't think that will change. But now [when I am not in the cockpit] I have Jules all the time on my mind.”
Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez echoed those thoughts: “It opens your eyes,” Hulkenberg continued, “and tells us what we are doing, is what we are doing and there is still some risk involved. I think you just have to be aware of that and make your own choices at times in the car, how much risk you are willing to take, and be comfortable with it. For me personally it won't change too much.”
“You know that there is a big level of risk, but it is what we love to do and when something like this happens to a colleague we all know it could have been ourselves in that car,” Perez continued.
“It doesn't really change anything, however. I have had some accidents in the past and you know the risk is there - we all know that. It can happen in any practice, any day, as soon as you jump into the car. You know the risk is very high but it doesn't really change anything. We want to give our best, we want to succeed and take every tenth out of the car. We just give it all and I don't think it will change. We all have to make Jules very proud.”
Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean said they have to be committed when they drive in Formula 1: “When you drive, especially a Formula 1 car, going that quick around a corner, you need to be 100% in the car and not thinking about what could happen and if and if. You just do your best.
“We know it is a dangerous sport and I think that is a hard way to remember that. But when the helmet is on and visor is closed, it is racing 100% and that is what we have always been doing and that is what a racing driver will always do.”
“We are racing and that is what we come here for,” Felipe Nasr chipped in. “We do face some risks sometimes, but I think since then, this virtual safety car was a good positive point to have in a way to avoid the kind of circumstances like happened with Jules.
“But it is also linked to us drivers to know these kind situations and be aware of it and in dangerous conditions out there or whatever, we all have to know what is good for us - what we have to do and what is safe for us to do. As all the others do and like I do as well, when we are racing, we are not thinking about these things.”
Rookie Robeto Merhi, however, did concede that he does now think more when he sees yellow flags and recovery vehicles on track.
“I don't think it changes much, but for sure you think more about it. For example, I was racing here in the World Series and out of the fastest corner on the track, was a car crash and a tractor came in to recover the car. They didn't put a safety car out and to be honest when I saw that situation under a yellow flag, I really slowed down,” he admitted.
“Maybe in the past I would not have slowed down so much but after that you think more about it. You are more afraid. You know things can happen and I did not feel so comfortable in that situation and I really lifted in that corner and lost maybe three tenths that lap because I think it is a dangerous corner and a dangerous situation. But for a single lap or a start, like a normal situation, it will not change.”