Jules Bianchi laid to rest in Nice
Emotional ceremony held for former Marussia driver at the Sainte Reparate Cathedral
Last Updated: 21/07/15 12:11pm
Jules Bianchi has been laid to rest in his home town of Nice at an emotional ceremony at the Sainte Reparate Cathedral.
Just across the border from Monaco where Bianchi famously scored Marussia’s first points in 2014, Nice was inundated with well-wishers wanting to pay their respects on Tuesday morning.
As friends and family gathered inside the cathedral, the deputy mayor of Nice announced: “We have come together to say goodbye to a champion.”
A number of drivers from the current F1 grid were in attendance along with other paddock personnel and former team-mates of the Frenchman - a reflection of the esteem and affection in which the popular the 25-year-old was held.
Outside of the Sainte Reparate Cathedral the service was broadcast to thousands of fans who had gathered in the town square adorned by floral tributes. There were sporadic spontaneous bursts of applause from the crowd during a ceremony which included emotionally-charged eulogies from Bianchi’s parents and his brother and sister.
Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean and Jean-Eric Vergne were among the pall-bearers who carried Bianchi’s coffin from the cathedral.
“Today has been a special day," Vergne said. "One of the greatest drivers has left us, but with such a special beautiful souvenir. He has been a great person outside and in the track and he has written his name in Formula 1.
"His name will stay in the history of the sport. He was the greatest and he will always be in our hearts.”
The FIA have announced that the car number, 17, used by Bianchi will be retired in his honour. His passing is also expected to be commemorated at this weekend’s Hungarian GP.
The Frenchman had been in a coma for nine months after colliding with a recovery vehicle at last October's Japanese GP.
Bianchi is the first Formula 1 driver to perish due to injuries suffered during a race since Ayrton Senna’s fatal crash at the 1994 San Marino GP.
Jules Bianchi career timeline
Born: August 3, 1989.
2007: Graduates from karting and wins French Formula Renault title.
2008: Moves to Formula 3 Euroseries and wins prestigious Masters event at Zolder.
2009: Wins F3 Euroseries title, beating Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez along the way. Signed to Ferrari driver academy.
2010: Moves to GP2 and finishes third in standings. Named Ferrari reserve driver.
2012: Takes part in nine Practice One sessions for Force India. Narrowly misses out on Formula Renault 3.5 title.
2013: Makes F1 debut with Marussia.
2014: Scores first points for Marussia in Monaco.