Graeme Lowden, who was the CEO of the Marussia team when Jules Bianchi drove for them, says he will remember the driver who died last week as being “grateful and happy” for his chance to race in Formula One.
Speaking in a press conference at the Hungaroring today Lowden remembered Bianchi’s excitement at making his F1 debut with the team at the beginning of 2013.
“The very first day he came into our garage in Formula One for a seat fit in Barcelona, he came in as a Ferrari development driver and that already is a sign of all the hard work and skill that he’s put in, and yet he came in with an eagerness in his eyes, he could not wait to get into that Formula One car,” said Lowden.
“He displayed a trait that you don’t often see these days, sadly, and that was that he was incredibly grateful and happy. He was grateful to have the chance to be in Formula One and I think that reflected the fact that he was very good, he knew he was going to be good at driving the car and that to me was one of the defining points.
“Somebody did ask of your time with Jules what do you remember the most. I can honestly say from my point of view what I remember the most is from the minute he walked into that garage to the minute we said goodbye it was an absolute pleasure to work with him and I dearly miss him now he’s not here.”
Lowden admitted that returning to a race weekend had been more difficult than he expected following Bianchi’s death last week.
“But I have to say it’s been made a lot easier by the F1 family,” he said. “As you know Jules was universally liked in the paddock and the support from everybody to the team has been fantastic.”
“I think the reason why everyone’s found it so difficult is the sense of loss. Looking around the cathedral on Tuesday there were just so many people there and they’d all lost something in some way, whether it was a colleague if it’s a mechanic they’ve lost their driver, even in the media you’ve lost the person you knew and you interviewed. People have lost a team mate, people they raced against. If you look at teams ART, Manor, Force India, Ferrari have lost a team member. And it was just this overwhelming sense of loss, really.
“I think what was very clear is nobody had lost more than the Bianchi family. I have to say I drew enormous strength from Jules’ Bianchi. For anyone that knows them they’re an incredibly close and loving family. Philippe and Christine have had to endure something that I can’t really comprehend over the last nine months and my heart really does go out to them.”