LAID TO REST: Pallbearers carry the casket of F1 driver Jules Bianchi into the Nice cathedral during his funeral in Nice, France. Image: AP / Lionel Cironneau
NICE, France - Formula 1 turned out in force on Tuesday (July 21 2015) to pay its last respects to Jules Bianchi at the 25-year-old driver's funeral in his home town of Nice, France.
World champion Lewis Hamilton and many of Bianchi's colleagues joined family and friends of the talented young Marussia driver who died nine months after his devastating accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
Two giant portraits of Bianchi in full racing gear adorned the wall either side of the cathedral's main entrance.
His coffin, with his helmet poignantly resting on it, was carried from the hearse into the cathedral by a group of young drivers, described by Father Sylvain Brison as Bianchi's "racing brothers".
READ: As it happened: Jules Bianchi laid to rest
With The Eagles' haunting 1970s anthem "Hotel California" playing in the background, the coffin was carried up the cathedral's central aisle, as loud applause rang out.
LIVE: Jules Bianchi laid to rest in France
Hamilton and his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, who had made the short trip from their homes in Monaco, as well as Jean Todt, head of F1's governing International Automobile Federation, and the French sports minister Thierry Braillard, had arrived discreetly in advance for what his parents had requested was to be an intimate farewell to their son.
A crowd gathered outside the Sainte Reparate Cathedral for the funeral of Jules Bianchi.
Father Brison told mourners at the Sainte-Reparate Cathedral in Nice's historic old town: "Jules' death is deeply unjust. He was happy, because he had turned his dream into reality.
"F1 was his life, his vocation. He was a champion blessed with a rare talent, as well as being a young man whose stature was as high as the depth of his humility."
Sebastian Vettel, a four-times F1 champion, helped carry the coffin out of the cathedral at the end of the service.
On Monday (July 20), Ferrari had revealed that Bianchi would have joined Vettel next season as Kimi Raikonnen's replacement.
FIRST DEATH SINCE SENNA
Bianchi was the first F1 driver to die as a result of a racing accident since triple F1 champion Ayrton Senna in San Marino in 1994.
Senna's arch-rival, four-timeschampion Alain Prost, was among the mourners saying goodbye to Bianchi.
Bianchi suffered a traumatic brain injury when his car careered off the rain-drenched Suzuka circuit during the Japanese GP on October 5 2014 and smashed into a recovery truck at around 200km/h.
Born in Nice in 1989, Bianchi had racing in his blood. His father Philippe was a kart specialist and his great-uncle Lucien competed in 17 Grands Prix before he was killed in a crash in 1969 at the age of 34.
After a spell at Ferrari's drivers' academy Bianchi joined Marussia in 2013 and competed in 34 Grands Prix, notching two championship points - still the team's best result.
The FIA has announced that in honour of Bianchi it had retired his No.17 car.
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