F1 Russian Grand Prix 2014: Lewis Hamilton says it's hard to focus on championship when thoughts are with Jules Bianchi

Championship leader admits he is thinking a lot about Bianchi along with the rest of the grid following his serious accident in Japan

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton has conceded to his thoughts being elsewhere and blurring his focus on his fight for this season's Formula One world title.

Bianchi suffers diffuse axonal injury

Hamilton's triumph in Japan on Sunday, his third consecutive win to open up a 10-point cushion over Mercedes team-mate and championship rival Nico Rosberg, was overshadowed by the horrific accident involving Jules Bianchi.

Bianchi is currently fighting for his life after undergoing brain surgery in the wake of crashing into a recovery vehicle that was removing Adrian Sutil's Sauber that had crashed minutes previously. For all the drivers, such a scenario ensures this weekend's first foray for F1 into Russia lacks the appeal it might otherwise have done.

 

For Hamilton especially, Bianchi's critical situation means his championship charge has been put into context.

"It's not easy," said Hamilton.

"It's very strange to be sat doing interviews about racing, sitting in media scrums talking about the race and talking about last week.

"Most weekends you talk about the excitement of the championship, of the races, but this is just a different weekend and thoughts are elsewhere."

Williams driver Felipe Massa, meanwhile, has described the race at Suzuka as the "worst of my life" given the sad circumstances that unfolded.

Massa stated earlier this week how he was screaming over the in-car radio for the race to be stopped a few laps ahead of Bianchi's smash.

Massa can appreciate more than most what Bianchi is going through in light of his own horrific accident in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009 that led to him needing life-saving brain surgery.

The Brazilian, with tears clearly welling in his eyes as he spoke, said: "It (Japan) was a really bad race.

"It's been so difficult every day thinking about him, thinking about Jules. It's a very difficult weekend for all of us.

"Maybe it will get a little bit better on Friday (for the start of practice) because at least you are working, at least you have something to think about, some issue inside your brain.

"I will try to race and do the best we can for him, for his family."

Every driver in the paddock spoke sombrely about Bianchi and the 25-year-old's situation, with parents Philippe and Christine, along with Marussia team principal John Booth undertaking a bedside vigil at the Mie General Medical Centre in Yokkaichi.

Booth will not attend this weekend's race, with sporting director Graeme Lowdon instead overseeing matters.

At present the name of 'Jules Bianchi' hangs over the Marussia garage at the Sochi Autodrom, and the second car is being prepared.

But as a mark of respect to Bianchi, Marussia will run only one car with Max Chilton at the wheel.

The 21 drivers will all carry the message 'Tous avec Jules' (All with Jules) on their helmets, along with his race number of 17.

With Bianchi's life in the balance, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said: "It sounds bloody awful. Whatever can be done is being done."

PA

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