Manor preparing for emotional return to Monaco

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Manor Marussia F1 Team is preparing to make an emotional return to Monaco for next weekend’s grand prix as memories of Jules Bianchi’s heroics in last year’s race flood back to all of those in Formula 1.

The 2014 Monaco Grand Prix proved to be the high point in Marussia F1 Team’s five-year stint in the sport as Bianchi finished in an incredible ninth place in the race to score its first and only points.

In a race of attrition, Bianchi managed to fight his way up into the top ten despite having a car that had no right to be scoring points, and even fended off the advances of Romain Grosjean and Jean-Eric Vergne to hold on to his position.

Bianchi crossed the line in eighth place, but was demoted to ninth due to a five-second penalty. However, this result still secured him two championship points that made the world stand up and take note of his ability.

The Frenchman’s 2014 season was tragically cut short in October, though, when he sustained severe head injuries in an accident at the Japanese Grand Prix. He remains in a coma, and continues to be cared for and monitored in hospital in his native France.

The very fact that Marussia will be racing in Monaco next weekend is astonishing. Since the team’s day in the sun last May, it has entered and exited administration, missed three grands prix, failed to qualify for a fourth, relocated, seen most of its assets sold off and even undergo a name change.

But like Jules, the team continues to fight, and will return to Monaco with wonderful memories of last year’s race, albeit tinged with sadness.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).