Lewis Hamilton takes a ten-point lead into the Russian Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team-mate Nico Rosberg, as the Formula 1 community comes to terms with the serious crash suffered by Marussia driver Jules Bianchi last weekend in Japan.
Despite winning in Japan to extend his championship lead, the crash for Bianchi took the shine off of Hamilton’s victory, and in the week since, the Frenchman remains in the thoughts of the Briton.
“It’s difficult to know what to say after a weekend like the one in Japan,” said Hamilton. “As I crossed the line, obviously I was pleased to have finally won at Suzuka – but as soon as we got back to the pits and heard what happened to Jules it suddenly didn’t seem relevant anymore. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
Team-mate Rosberg finished second in Japan, but echoed the thoughts of Hamilton, insisting everyone’s thoughts are still with Bianchi.
“My first thoughts at the moment are always with Jules Bianchi and I really wish him, his family and his colleagues all the very best at this difficult time,” insists Rosberg. “The weekend in Japan brought a good result for the team but we came away from the race with only one thing on our minds – the well-being of our colleague Jules.”
Hamilton admits to liking a challenge, and the introduction of a new circuit is one he relishes. He admits to have spent some time in the simulator to learn the Sochi circuit, but until he gets on track on Friday he won’t know for sure how the track will actually run.
“This weekend is a new experience for Formula One as we head to Russia for the first time,” stated Hamilton. “I like a challenge and a new circuit always provides that. Of course, we’ve run through plenty of laps on the simulator – but you never really know what it will be like until you get out there and feel your way into the track. I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s really like and how our car performs there.
“It felt great in the race in Japan and I’m sure it will be strong again in Sochi, so I’m hoping to keep up this run of results that we’ve built in the last few races.”
Reflecting on this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, Rosberg revealed that he is excited to be a part of the inaugural race in the country, and is looking forward to getting out on track on Friday.
“Looking ahead to this weekend, it’s exciting to be going to the first ever Russian Grand Prix,” said Rosberg. “Formula One has never raced in Russia before, of course. But we did actually do a demo in Moscow a couple of years ago where I drove round the Kremlin, which was really cool. Everybody was really into it – all the Russian fans – so I think there will be a lot of people coming to watch us.
“It’s a new circuit, so we’ve spent a lot of time in the simulator practising it to learn all the lines and the gears as best we can before going there, which will be important when we first hit the track. I’m looking forward to what I’m sure will be a great first year for Formula One in Russia.”