FIA retires car No. 17 in honor of F1 driver Jules Bianchi
NICE, France (AP) Jules Bianchi’s No. 17 is being retired from Formula One in honor of the French driver, whose funeral takes place Tuesday.
Bianchi drove with this car number for 15 races in 2014, when drivers were first given the choice of which number they preferred.
Jean Todt, president of auto sports’ governing body, announced the decision Monday. The FIA said it was ”an appropriate gesture.”
Bianchi, 25, died Friday from head injuries sustained in a crash at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix. He had been in a coma since the Oct. 5 accident, in which he collided at high speed with a mobile crane which was being used to pick up another crashed car.
Bianchi’s funeral is in his home town of Nice at the Sainte Reparate Cathedral. Executives from the Manor-Marussia F1 team are expected to attend, as well as Todt and his son Nicolas, Bianchi’s manager in F1.
Tributes are also expected at the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend, including one by Ferrari which helped secure Bianchi’s F1 debut. The driver was being lined up as an eventual replacement for Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Bianchi competed in 34 races during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, scoring the first ever championship points for Manor – then known as Marussia – by finishing ninth at last year’s Monaco Grand Prix.
He was the first driver to die of injuries sustained in an F1 race since three-time world champion Ayrton Senna was killed at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.