By Helen Regan
July 22, 2015

The funeral of French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi was held in his hometown of Nice on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old had been described as “a future world champion” of F1 racing, reports the BBC.

Hundreds of mourners came to pay their final respects to Bianchi, who passed away last Friday following head injuries he sustained from a crash in last year’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Bianchi had been in a coma since October 2014, when his Marussia car skidded off the track in wet conditions and collided with a recovery vehicle.

He was the first F1 driver to die from injuries sustained during a race since Brazilian world champion Ayrton Senna, who was killed at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994.

F1 bosses say danger will always be part of the sport, but F1 is as safer now than ever in its history.

“If you were to choose to have an accident today in anything, you’d choose a Formula One [car] because it’s probably the safest it’s ever been,” F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone told the BBC.

“We’ve done an awful lot of work to make sure that if a car does go off and hits something, they hit the tyre barriers or whatever, then its all OK,” he added.

In the wake of Bianchi’s crash at Suzuka, F1’s governing body implemented a series of safety measures, including extra strengthening around the cockpit and the introduction of the virtual safety car (VSC). When the VSC is deployed during a race, the drivers must slow down to a specific average speed.

“It’s always important to learn from any incident like this, and to be fair the sport has already improved a number of safety measures. Hopefully we’ll never see an accident like this again,” Graeme Lowdon, the president and sporting director of the Marussia (now known as Manor) team, told the BBC.

But according to Ecclestone, many drivers and teams say F1 cars have become slower in recent years due to the number of safety and technical regulations.

“That’s what they’ve been complaining about recently that perhaps we’ve got too safe and too clinical,” the F1 supremo told Sky Sports News.

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