In Review

F1 thoughts stay with Jules Bianchi as circus arrives for Russian GP

Marussia will race only one car and drivers will carry messages of support for Bianchi this weekend

Jules Bianchi remains in intensive care in hospital in Japan but the Formula 1 circus of which he was part rolls on. This weekend it pitches up in Russia, where the events of last week look set to overshadow the first Russian Grand Prix at Sochi.

Certainly the drivers were more concerned with Bianchi than Sunday's race as they got to grips with the new circuit, and it has been announced that Bianchi's team, Marussia, who are competing in their home Grand Prix, will run just one car in the race.

"The Russian-backed team said Bianchi's car had been built and was ready to race, but it will remain vacant in the garage all weekend," says the Daily Telegraph. "Although the teams are contractually obliged to run two cars, Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's ringmaster, has made clear to Marussia's CEO Graeme Lowdon that there will be no consequences of running one car for the race."

As a result "practice for the inaugural race in Sochi opened with the poignant sight of car number 17 parked in an empty garage", reports The Times.

In his BBC column, Lewis Hamilton, who leads the drivers championship from Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, said the feeling in the paddock ahead of the race was "very strange" and added: "I just hope we have a safe weekend."

He said Bianchi was in all the drivers' thoughts. "We are all carrying a message of support for Jules on our helmets for this race, and I feel like we are carrying him with us, that he is here with us in spirit."

There has been some anger among the drivers over the circumstances of the crash, with Sergio Perez describing the incident, in which Bianchi's car collided with a crane at the side of the track which was recovering another vehicle, as "totally unacceptable". Bianchi sustained serious head injuries.

It is not just drivers who are concerned. The track marshals at Sochi will be officiating their first Grand Prix and there are fears over their safety after the incident at Suzuka last week.

One experienced marshal contacted the Telegraph to point out that it was only by luck that Bianchi's car missed staff by the side of the track.

He claimed Bianchi had "disobeyed" trackside warning flags before the crash. "It is pure chance that he hit a recovery vehicle, suffering serious injuries," said David Simons. He said he wished the driver well, but added: "I cannot help wondering how different the commentaries would be if he had hit and killed a marshal without injuring himself."

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