London: Formula One team Force India's principal Vijay Mallya on Monday condoled the death of driver Jules Bianchi, saying the world has lost a 'true racer and we have all lost a friend'.
Bianchi, 25, died on Friday night, nine months after suffering severe head injuries in a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. His funeral will be held on Tuesday.
Bianchi had been in coma since October after his Marussia car collided with a recovery vehicle in wet conditions during the closing stages of the Japanese Grand Prix.
"We head to Budapest in a sombre mood after the events of the weekend. The thoughts of everyone at Sahara Force India are with the friends and family of Bianchi. We had the pleasure of working with Jules during 2012 and he left a strong impression on everyone in the team," Mallya said in a statement.
"We came to know an outstanding young man and a tremendous talent who was destined for great things in Formula One. The world has lost a true racer and we have all lost a friend."
Mallya said though it is tough getting back to business after the loss, they would want to add to their recent good form. The next race is the Hungarian Grand Prix from July 24 to 26.
"It will be hard to get back to business but we go to Hungary looking to build on our competitive showing at Silverstone. The debut of the b-spec car met our expectations and has delivered the performance step we anticipated.
"It's a boost for everyone in the team and we are moving in a good direction for the second half of the season. Over the next few races we will work hard to extract even more performance and build on this momentum," he said.
Force India are currently at the fifth spot in the Constructor championship standings with 29 points in a list headed by Mercedes (371).
"The double points finish at Silverstone has consolidated our fifth place in the Championship. We've picked up 28 points from the last four races and there is a good opportunity to score more points in Budapest.
"At the start of the year we said we would target fifth place in the standings and that's certainly an achievable goal.
"We are now looking at the teams ahead of us and will try and close the gap further," added the Indian businessman.