Remembering Anthoine Hubert One Year After His Death

Illustration for article titled Remembering Anthoine Hubert One Year After His Death
Photo: John Thys (Getty Images)

On August 31, 2020, Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert was killed in a horrifying crash during the opening stages of the series’s feature race at Spa-Francorchamps. With the Formula One circuit returning to the circuit for the first time one year from Hubert’s death, many drivers are reflecting on their memories with the driver.

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Hubert, only 22 years old at the time of his death, was the 2018 GP3 Series champion—the final one in the existence of the series before it became known as Formula 3. His first-year Formula 2 results were solid: at the time of his death, he had competed in 16 races and secured two wins and 10 top-10 finishes. Despite not competing the final six races of the season, Hubert finished in 10th in the drivers’ championship.

The series has paid its respects by opting to permanently retire the No. 19, which had been Hubert’s number at the time of his death.

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“Nearly one year on from the tragic passing of Anthoine Hubert at Spa, Formula 2 officially confirms that the number 19 will no longer be used in the Championship,” the statement read. “19 will forever be Anthoine’s, in memory of the late Frenchman, whose star still shines brightly over our paddock.”

In addition, a logo has been designed in Hubert’s honor. Half a star that contains Hubert’s initials and number will be added to all F2 and F3 cars. Many F1 drivers have opted to incorporate the logo onto their helmets or car designs as well.

A minute of silence was observed ahead of F2's feature race on Saturday.

Juan Manuel Correa, the driver that struck Hubert’s out-of-control car at Spa, suffered his own bevy of health problems. He suffered severe injuries to his lungs and right leg, and he spent two weeks in a coma. After that, he returned home to focus on recovery. He is at the track this weekend and was one of the drivers to visit the site of Hubert’s accident.

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In an interview on the F2 Instagram page, Correa noted that he’s looking to make his racing comeback next year. “I’ve been recovering really quickly, pushing a lot with that racer mindset, always doing more than necessary, but it’s worked out well,” he said. He continued:

I have still quite a few surgeries left to go, but the whole metal [frame] around my leg should be gone by the end of this year, which means I can jump in a car, maybe as early as December.

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Regarding his return to Spa, Correa said:

I felt there was a way for me to kind of close the chapter, but more importantly to pay my tribute to Anthoine. I haven’t been able to do so properly from Miami. It’s just been something I had pending. I felt that coming out here this weekend, I got the invitation from F2, and I took it in a heartbeat.

I’m happy to be here, I’m happy to see all the people from the paddock again. But it’s also going to be a very emotional weekend for me.

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Several F1 drivers themselves have also paid respects, the most poignant of which may be Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly’s tribute helmet. The pink scheme mimics that of Hubert and includes a strip of photos of Hubert. Gasly’s normal helmet this season features both Hubert and Jules Bianchi, who eventually succumbed to injuries sustained during an accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

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“I truly know that I would have never achieved what I did without growing with him, because we were pushing each other so much, whether it was on-track or off the track,” Gasly said during his team’s press conference. “I had known him since I was seven years old in karting. We were in the same school together organized by the French motorsport federation. From when I was 13 to 19 and we shared an apartment for six years.

“I think everyone in the paddock will take time to think of him.”

Other drivers posted their thoughts on social media, including several stories from driver Jack Aitken.

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To prevent further accidents, in May of 2020 the FIA released a series of changes set to be implemented in the design of future cars, including debris containment via the use of tethering, increased frontal and side strength of the safety cell, front wing and helmet redesigns, the potential introduction of car-to-car communication to report accidents, and a new tire pressure monitoring system.

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The Anthoine Hubert Award was also introduced at the prize giving in Monaco in 2019. The prize is given to the the highest scoring driver without prior F2 experience in honor of Hubert’s two wins in his rookie season. The inaugural award was given to Guanyu Zhou.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Freelancer. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

halftrackelcamino
Half-track El Camino

Can anyone think of any competitive sports other than motorsport in which it is pretty much just accepted that players will sometimes die during the course of a competition? I know they keep making improvements to safety, but drivers and riders still get badly injured on the regular, and occasionally die. The danger is even part of what gives racing its glamor, and crashes are often seen as the most exciting part of a race.

Would this be accepted if it was football or basketball? If not, what makes racing different? While injuries do occur in other types of sports, they don’t seem to be considered just part of the cost of doing business in the same way that they are in racing.