Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: F1 to pay respects with messages of support and minute's silence after debris spotted in Indian Ocean

The Malaysian Grand Prix has been overshadowed by the tragic plane crash with the Formula 1 paddock set to pay tribute to all those thought to have died

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The Independent Online

The Formula 1 paddock will pay its respect to the 239 passengers believed to have died aboard the missing MH370 flight ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Malaysian Airlines flight, which took off from Kuala Lumpur heading for Beijing, disappeared on March 8, with an announcement made earlier this week that authorities believe the plane has crashed into the Indian Ocean, with all aboard feared dead.

Drivers are expected to carry tributes on both their cars and helmets during the race, having already seen Mercedes run with the slogan “#PrayforMH370 on their car during a demo run on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

There will also be a minute’s silence before the race gets underway, in order for drivers, mechanics, fans and officials to pay their respects.

“It's devastating to hear about it,” said former world champion and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. “All you can do is pray.”

Hamilton’s compatriot and former team-mate at McLaren Jenson Button added: “It's good that the whole of the paddock are running tributes.

“It's devastating. I really feel for all the families. We will do all we can. It'll be difficult this weekend for all the Malaysian people.”

With hope quickly fading that any survivors would be rescued, Malaysian prime minster Najib Razak announced on Monday that “ beyond reasonable doubt” the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean, killing all aboard flight MH370, with further reports coming out of Australia on Friday revealing a search plane has seen debris in the Indian Ocean.

Hamilton’s team-mate at Mercedes Nico Rosberg, who won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and topped practice times on Friday, said: “I've experienced first-hand how everybody in Malaysia is thinking of families and friends.

“There are billboards and signs here with people who have put stickers up with messages on them.”

Race organisers decided to cancel a planned concert set to feature Christina Aguilera and Rain, choosing to tone done events across the weekend due to the national tragedy. However, they remain keen to demonstrate how strong Malaysia is by bringing the public together in support of those affected by the crash.

Razlan Razali, CEO of the Sepang circuit, said: “We remind ourselves that this is a huge international event, regardless of our state of mourning.

“The world will be on us to see how fragile or how strong [we are]. So we have a huge responsibility to put on a good show.”