Emotions high as Manor returns to Japan one year after Bianchi’s crash

Jules Bianchi sits in his car ahead of the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. Bianchi crashed into a recovery vehicle during the race and suffered head injuries that would prove fatal.

Manor team boss John Booth says that Suzuka will be an emotional experience for everyone in the team – including drivers Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi, who were present at last year’s race.

Booth has made it clear that he wants the F1 paddock and media to respect the team’s privacy.

“There is no escaping the fact that this will be an extremely emotional week for us,” he said in a team race preview. “Many of the team members who were with us in 2014 are back with us this year, including our colleagues at Scuderia Ferrari and of course Will and Alexander, both of whom were in Suzuka last year in their roles as Reserve Drivers. It will also be a different emotional experience again from Monaco, a place full of so many special memories for our team, and Hungary, where we all had to say a very difficult goodbye to a greatly-loved friend and colleague.

“We think of Jules every single day; he will forever be a huge part of our team. Without doubt, our memories are overwhelmingly happy ones, celebrating his incredible achievements in our race cars and the enjoyable times we shared along the way. Jules’ funeral reminded us that he was a special gift to so many people, not least of all the magnificent Bianchi family, who are always in our thoughts and prayers.

“We were Jules’ team, and with that in mind I would ask everyone to understand and respect that, this weekend, we wish to deal with the experience of returning to Suzuka in a very private way. Our commitments will reflect this. It is my job to provide the team with the right environment in which to be able to do their job in spite of very difficult circumstances. This will be my primary focus. Jules has not only been constantly in our thoughts since that terrible day in 2014, but his name has also been on our car at every single race. That tribute, our incredibly fond memories of Jules and the camaraderie we have within our team are all we need to race on in his honor in Suzuka this weekend.”

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