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Formula One Drivers Have Texas, Title, Bianchi On Their Minds

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 15 2014

Lewis Hamilton, who won the 2012 F1 race at the Circuit of the Americas, said Jules Bianchi is constantly in his thoughts.

As Formula One’s globetrotting tour prepares for its lone visit to the United States, Lewis Hamilton’s march to a second World Driving Championship continues to be tempered by Jules Bianchi’s fight for life.

Hamilton’s victory in Sunday’s inaugural Russian Grand Prix extended his lead over Mercedes AMG teammate Nico Rosberg to 17 points en route to the third annual F1 United States Grand Prix weekend at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Hamilton’s ninth victory of the season and fourth in a row paced Mercedes’ ninth 1-2 result. The combined 43-point haul allowed the German manufacturer to clinch its first F1 Constructors’ World Championship.

“History in the making!” Hamilton shouted over his in-car radio post-race at Sochi Autodrom, a celebration muted by the sobering reality that the hearts and minds of the F1 community remain with Bianchi in a Japanese hospital.

“All week there was only one person on my mind and that was Jules,” Hamilton said during the FIA’s post-race news conference. “Of course there is happiness for the team with the title win but there is also no doubt that I was thinking of him and his family a lot. I keep him in my prayers every day. If it means anything, I would like to dedicate my win to him and his family. I hope that every bit of positive energy will help. Let’s all send positive vibes out to him.”

On Tuesday, Bianchi’s Marussia F1 Team reported the Frenchman was facing a “challenging situation” as a result of the severe head injuries suffered when he crashed into a recovery crane on Lap 43 of the rain-plagued Japanese Grand Prix on Oct. 5. Bianchi underwent brain surgery at Mie General Medical Center after being transported from the Suzuka Circuit.

“The past nine days have been extremely difficult for Jules and his family,” Marussia management said in a statement reported by Racer.com. “As a consequence of the accident at Suzuka, a number of medical challenges have needed to be overcome and the situation remains challenging due to the diffuse axonal traumatic brain injury Jules has sustained. Jules remains in a critical but stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit of Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi.”

The Bianchi family is at the bedside of the 25-year-old driver. Jules’ father, Philippe, said in an interview with Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport that his son is breathing with assistance of a machine and has not regained consciousness since the accident.

Hamilton, who began Sunday’s race with a 10-point title lead, now holds a 291-274 advantage over Rosberg. Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo is third with 199 points, and mathematically in title contention with 100 points on the table from the remaining three races.

The 2008 World Champion, Hamilton declined to classify his lead as “comfortable” heading into COTA’s 3.4-mile/20-turn circuit.

“There is no such thing as a comfortable feeling when the championship is still open,” said Hamilton, who won the inaugural U.S. Grand Prix at COTA in November 2012. “This championship will go to the end, so I just hope that the future for me is bright at the next races.

“Of course it’s a very positive feeling to have those 17 points, and to have finished ahead of Nico – but history has shown this year that the gap can never be enough. The most important thing is the gap at the very end of the season. Right now nothing changes – I will keep fighting and pushing as hard as I have been up until now.”

Rosberg’s drive to second, ahead of a relentless Valtteri Bottas of Williams, was remarkable considering Nico locked-up his Pirelli tires upon entry to Turn 1 while attempting to pass pole-sitter Hamilton at the outset.

“It was just a mistake on my side, braked too late and that’s it,” Rosberg said. “Very unnecessary because it was my corner and should have been in the lead after that. So, obviously very disappointed with that. After that my tires were just square. They were vibrating so much I couldn’t see where I was going so I knew that I had to pit. For me, I thought that was it. I thought that was the end of the day.

“But then of course, partly happy to get back all the way to second, passing Valtteri along the way and then… yeah, it’s just thanks to my car. My car was just unbelievable and that’s what allowed me to come back through the field. That’s the main thing really. In hindsight really, even if it was a bit…I could have pushed more during the race, you know? But it’s always easy to know afterwards…”

Hamilton, who earned his first World Championship with McLaren, and Rosberg have combined to win 13 of 16 races this season. Bottas rounded-out the Sochi podium as “best of the rest” after 53 laps.

“Firstly, I’m just so proud to have contributed, to have worked with this great team _ to get the first Constructors’ Championship for Mercedes-Benz,” said Hamilton, whose 31st career victory tied him with fellow-Brit Nigel Mansell. “I could have only dreamed of that when I joined this team. So, a great day for that. Huge congratulations to all the guys that are here and back home in the UK and also in Germany.

“It’s history for us, so I feel very proud to be a part of it _ me and Nico and all the team members. It’s the greatest feeling to drive this car, be part of the team and represent Mercedes-Benz, who signed me when I was 13 and helped me all the way _ and now creating history with them is just awesome. To help them win their first ever Constructors’ title, that is a dream come true.“

With that title in the books, Hamilton and Rosberg reiterated their intramural battle will continue at COTA. “Same,” said Hamilton, who has seven poles and 13 podiums along with his nine wins.

“It’s the same, you know?” Rosberg said. “Up until now, it’s always been we can fight and it continues to be like that. We can fight, it doesn’t change.”

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 15 2014
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  • Jason says:

    Bianchi is in our prayers from all of us at rvnightly campgrounds at the Austin Circuit. Keep on Fighting!!