Charles Leclerc has admitted that he will have an emotional weekend ahead of him as he races for the first time at the Suzuka Circuit. The Japanese Grand Prix was the scene of Jules Bianchi's accident in 2014, which would ultimately cost him his life.
Leclerc and Bianchi were good friends, having known each other from a young age. Bianchi was tipped to be the next in line for a seat at Ferrari, which now has gone to Leclerc. And the Monegasque driver says that things will be difficult for him over the next few days.
“It’s obviously a very difficult weekend,” Leclerc said. “Jules has helped me massively throughout here, and more than only on the racing side, it was a bit like a part of the family, all his family, so it is very difficult.
“I’ve never came to Japan before and to do the track walk this morning was quite emotional. On the other hand I need to focus on this weekend to do the best job possible anyway, even if it’s a difficult weekend.”
Bianchi crashed under treacherous conditions in 2014, which left him in a coma for nine months. Leclerc said that he visited the scene of the accident upon arriving at the circuit on Wednesday and confirmed he is planning to run a special helmet next year as a tribute to his friend.
“I’m definitely thinking about something next year about the helmet but you know there’s this rule where you can only have one special helmet and this year was for my father,” he said.
“Next year I have an idea of doing something with the helmet of split both sides with one for Jules and one for my father, this year nothing more special than just making him remember as much as I can to the public.”