The Renault Drivers Academy has paid tribute to the late Anthoine Hubert, who passed away following the events of the FIA Formula 2 feature race at Spa-Francorchamps.
Hubert succumb to his injuries when he was involved in a serious high-speed accident at the top of Raidillon. The incident also involved Giuliano Alesi and Juan Manuel Correa. Alesi escaped the accident unhurt, but Correa suffered fractures to both legs and a minor spinal injury. He has undergone surgery and is currently recovering.
The Frenchman was part of Renault’s Driver Academy, joining the group this year after winning the 2018 GP3 Series championship as a Renault affiliated driver. Hubert joined along with the likes of fellow F2 drivers Jack Aitken and Guanyu Zhou in the academy.
Hubert’s rookie season was exceptional, taking two race wins with BWT Arden at Monaco and at his home race in France. His efforts attracted attention with some of the top teams in F2 for next year, as he cited to mount a title charge for 2020.
Hubert’s recent success in F2 saw him earn F1 tests with the Renault F1 Team, testing an old V8-powered F1 car alongside the likes of Zhou and Max Fewtrell.
Hubert was a talented driver who was able to deliver results, despite having a small budget. But the events at Spa has seen Motorsport lost one of its brightest stars, a prospect within the Renault Academy. Hubert’s team, Arden plan to run one car for this weekend’s round in Monza.
On Sunday morning, the day after Hubert’s tragic passing, a minute silence took place before the FIA Formula 3 and Formula 1 race, where the whole community in the F1 paddock gathered to pay their respects. All members of the Renault Academy alongside Alain Prost and Academy director Mia Sharizman gathered together with Hubert’s mother and brother for the minute’s silence.
Sharizman was the man responsible for signing Hubert as an affiliated driver, before joining the Academy full-time at the beginning of the season. Hubert’s passing was the hardest weekend for himself personally, and the Academy overall.
“It was the hardest weekend for the Academy and for me personally,” said Sharizman. “Everyone in the Academy looked up to Anthoine as being the benchmark for how to conduct themselves on and off track.
“He was humble and yet fast, he was caring and yet focused on being the best. He would help the younger drivers in the Academy and still complete his own training programme with absolute maximum effort.“
Hubert was seventh overall in the drivers’ championship in F2, alongside fellow Academy drivers Zhou and Aitken. During the summer break, all Academy drivers trained together in a training camp in the Pyrenees mountains.
Sharizman revealed that it was Hubert who originally thought of the idea of doing a training programme with the Academy drivers, believing it would be a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance. He also revealed that the Academy has organised Hubert’s future in F2 for 2020, having been linked with a seat at ART Grand Prix, DAMS and Arden.
But his untimely passing is a great loss for Renault, Arden, his family and friends, as well as the whole of the Motorsport community. But Sharizman knows that Hubert would want his fellow drivers to reach their goals and continue racing, as the Academy will race for him.
“Anthoine spent the last week of his life with the Academy boys at the training camp in the Pyrenees. It was he who convinced me that it will be good for everyone and he wanted to achieve this along with his fellow drivers as it was ‘a once in a lifetime achievement for all’. That is Anthoine – always thinking about others.
“Anthoine was moving up nicely in the Academy where we already identified his F2 programme for 2020. He will be a great lost for us as he was also crucial in the development of the F1 team too.
“It’s going to be difficult to move on but Anthoine would want each and everyone in the Academy to reach their goals and be the best they can be. There are races and championships to be won. The rest of the boys will focus on this, as they know that is what Anthoine would have wanted them to do. He has made everyone in the Academy a better person. That is how we will remember him.”
Ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Formula 2 and Formula 3 will resume racing at Monza after the difficult and emotionally challenging weekend at Spa. F2 cancelled its feature race after the accident and the sprint race didn’t run to pay respect to Hubert, but will race again at Monza.
Both Aitken and Zhou in their preview quotes said they will be racing for Hubert and hope to deliver a strong result for their teams and for the Academy.
“Although everything feels pretty unimportant right now, we have to keep moving, so we set our sights on Monza and doing the best job we can in Anthoine’s memory. Monza always produces some of the closest racing of the year so I’m looking forward to that.” commented Aitken.
“There has been lots of emotions going through my mind over these last few days,” said Zhou. “Now, I will keep my head up and be fully focused for Italy.
“We will be racing with Anthoine in our hearts and we will do everything possible to have the best race for ourselves and for him.”