Naturally, there was a sombre mood in today’s FIA press conference, just four days after an accident in the Japanese Grand Prix that left Marussia driver and Ferrari Driver Academy member Jules Bianchi in a serious condition, still in hospital in Japan. “It was a very tough race and obviously all our thoughts are with Jules,” began Fernando Alonso, one of the six panellists today. “We have a huge respect for our work, but with a big accident we can’t find the words to describe how we feel. Now we are here and this will also be a difficult weekend. I am ready to race, to race for him. And we will be as professional as we can, while our mind is with him and we are praying for him.”
Indeed, the racing goes on and this weekend it’s at the brand new Sochi circuit. “It’s always a nice feeling coming to a new circuit and it’s a challenge for everyone, for the drivers, the engineers and the teams,” said the Spanish Ferrari driver. “But the feelings are still there, especially for our team, as we have been close to Jules for all his career. We will work as well as possible, we will race for him and show we are strong. It’s going to be tough emotionally.”
Asked what lessons he felt could be learned from events in Suzuka last Sunday, Fernando felt it was too early to draw conclusions. “We must let the people do their work and as drivers we will share any ideas we have.” Bianchi’s accident also prompted a further question about the possibility of Formula 1 cars adopting a fighter-jet style of closed cockpit to reduce the risk of head injuries. “I agree we should at least try the idea,” said Fernando. “We are in 2014, we have the technology as we have seen in airplanes. Why not think about it then? The biggest accidents in motorsport in the last couple of years have been head injuries. In my case, in 2012, I could have died there in Corner 1, (at Spa-Francorchamps) if (the other car) had been ten centimetres closer to my head. If the technology is there, for sure I would not exclude it.”
As for the rest of the season, with four races to go, Fernando agreed with a questioner that Ferrari is still aiming for the podium. “ We have been picking up the pace, being more and more competitive in these last events, but there have been lost opportunities. We will try our best in the remaining races. The team is in a state of shock with Jules and we are all worried for him, but it’s time to be united and deliver a good result. We will do it to show him respect, so let’s try this weekend.