MotoGP death casts shadow at Sepang

Updated: 22 March 2012 16:09 IST

Sombre Formula One drivers paid tribute on Thursday to Italian MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli, whose tragic death at Sepang last year has cast a shadow over Malaysian Grand Prix preparations.

MotoGP death casts shadow at Sepang

Sepang, Malaysia:

Sombre Formula One drivers paid tribute on Thursday to Italian MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli, whose tragic death at Sepang last year has cast a shadow over Malaysian Grand Prix preparations.


Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, and other members of the Italian team Ferrari, had their picture taken at turn 11, where the young racer lost control of his bike in October.

"I think that we have a great memory for him and the whole Ferrari family, the Italian people will always remember him," said Alonso.

The death of Simoncelli at 24 came just a week after British IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon was killed in a horrific 15-car pile-up at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in a chilling period for motorsports.

But despite speeds over 300 kilometres (186 miles) per hour, Formula One has not suffered a death since three-time world champion Ayrton Senna was killed at San Marino in 1994, an incident that prompted a raft of safety changes.

"After the accident for Marco last year racing here will always be a little bit sad, and it will be tough knowing one of our colleagues died here," Alonso said ahead of Sunday's race.

Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen tweeted "big respect" to Simoncelli, while Bruno Senna, who races for Williams, marked his late uncle's birthday. The Brazilian great would have turned 52 on Wednesday.

"Happy Birthday, Ayrton. You're always present in our hearts!" tweeted his nephew.



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