The Manor F1 Team is doing its best to prepare for what team principal John Booth describes as an “extremely emotional” visit to Japan for this weekend’s upcoming Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The Suzuka circuit was the site of the fatal accident in the race’s closing stages which ultimately claimed the life of its lead driver, Jules Bianchi, who passed away in July due to the injuries he sustained.
“There is no escaping the fact that this will be an extremely emotional week for us,” Booth said.
“Many of the team members who were with us in 2014 are back with us, including our colleagues at Ferrari and Will [Stevens] and Alexander [Rossi], both of whom were in Suzuka last year in their roles as reserve drivers.
“It will 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.”
Weeks after Bianchi’s accident last year, the backmarker outfit was placed into administration for the rest of the season, and only re-emerged under new ownership in the weeks leading up to the start of the 2015 season.
That it was able to survive at all was in no small part to the major financial windfall it received as a result of Bianchi’s points-scoring drive at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix.
This year’s round in Monaco proved to be one of a number of emotional chapters for the team, with the more recent event at Hungary proving to be another following the Frenchman’s eventual death.
Similarly, Booth expects that the return to Japan will really hit home for the little team, and Booth has asked that the team be given space from the media to deal with the weekend privately.
“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,” he added.
“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 honour in Suzuka this weekend.”
Image via Auto Freaks