Formula One heads into this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix ready to return to the cut and thrust of racing as the sport, even as it mourns the loss of Jules Bianchi. Bianchi succumbed late last week to severe head injuries sustained in an accident in the rain-hit Japanese GP last October.
Lewis Hamilton. Pic/Getty Images
In coma since the accident, he had fought a nine-month long battle and is the first driver to lose his life from injuries sustained at a Grand Prix weekend since Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna were killed during the weekend of the San Marino GP in 1994.
He was laid to rest in his home-town Nice on Tuesday in a funeral attended by several current and former F1 drivers who, having paid their last respects to their colleague, are now ready to return to the track.
Thoughts of Bianchi, though, will not be far and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has promised to "race hard" as he prepares to resume the battle for the championship with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
"I will be carrying Jules with me in my prayers and thoughts, not only this race but for the rest of my driving days," the Briton said. "I know he'd want us to race hard as he did, and so I will."
Hamilton leads the world championship standings by 17 points from Rosberg having won five of the nine races so far this season. He is the most successful of the current crop of drivers at the Hungaroring and shares the record for the most wins at the 4.381 kilometer-long circuit with Michael Schumacher, having won here four times.
But Rosberg has raised his game after having made a lacklustre start to the season and heads into Sunday's race at the Hungaroring having won three of the last five races. He lost out to Hamilton at the last race in Britain and will be keen to swing the momentum in the title battle back his way as F1heads into its annual four-week summer break.
While the battle for the win will most likely be fought out by Hamilton and Rosberg in their dominant Mercedes, the opposition should be closer thanks to the Hungaroring's tight and twisty layout, similar in nature to Monaco. This should raise Ferrari and Williams' hopes of an upset.