Formula One drivers and teams taking part in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix will pay tribute to the 239 people aboard missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.
According to BBC.com, drivers will carry messages on their helmets and cars dedicated to the victims during the race. A minute’s silence will also be observed prior to the start of the event.
The fate of the missing plane has cast a definite pall over activities leading up to Sunday’s race, particularly since the runway from which the plane took off of is visible from the main grandstand of the Sepang track the race will be held upon.
“It’s devastating to hear about it,” Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton told BBC.com. “All you can do is pray.”
Added McLaren driver Jenson Button, “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.”
The plane disappeared on an overnight flight from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China. It is believed the plane may have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, where investigators and potential recovery efforts are focusing their attention.
And, of course, the fate of the plane and its passengers remain at the forefront of most Malaysian residents, which will make Sunday’s race all the more difficult.
“I’ve experienced first hand how everybody in Malaysia is thinking of families and friends,” said Nico Rosberg, who won the season-opening F1 race at Australia two weeks ago. “There are billboards and signs here with people who have put stickers up with messages on them.”
As a result of the national mourning, several festivities have been either cancelled (including a concert with Christina Aguilera and Rain), or scaled back.
BBC.com also reported that while last year’s race was just over two-thirds full (84,000 out of 120,000 seats), due to the lingering pall from the fate of the plane, Sunday’s race may be only one-third full.
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