The FIA announced on Saturday evening that Hubert, last season’s GP3 series champion, had succumbed to his injuries roughly an hour and a half after being involved in a high-speed accident at Spa-Francorchamps.
Hubert has gone off on the exit of Eau Rouge and Radillon and suffered a heavy impact with the outside tyre barrier, before his BWT Arden ran back across the run-off area and was struck while sideways by the Sauber Junior Team entry of Juan Manuel Correa as he attempted to avoid the spinning Trident of Giuliano Alesi, resulting in a much more ferocious accident.
American driver Correa is in a “stable condition”, the FIA said, and is being treated for his injuries at the CHU Liege Hospital nearby.
The statement read: “The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile [FIA] regrets to advise that a serious incident involving cars #12 [Correa], #19 [Hubert] and #20 [Alesi] occurred at 17:07 CET on 31/08/19 as a part of the FIA Formula Two Sprint Race at Spa-Francorchamps, round 17 of the season.
“The scene was immediately attended by emergency and medical crews, and all drivers were taken to the medical centre.
“As a result of the incident, the FIA regrets to inform that the driver of car #19, Antoine Hubert [FRA], succumbed to his injuries, and passed away at 18:35 CET.
“The driver of car #12, Juan-Manuel Correa (USA), is in a stable condition and is being treated at the CHU Liege hospital. More information on his condition will be provided when it becomes available.
“The driver of car #20 Giuliano Alesi (FRA) was checked and declared fit at the medical centre.
“The FIA is providing support to the event organisers and the relevant authorities, and has commenced an investigation into the incident.”
The collision between Hubert and Correa caused significant damage to both cars as they hit the wall again, with Correa going airborne and coming to a rest upside down. The impact was fierce enough to expose Correa’s feet as the front section of the car broke away, leaving him trapped in the cockpit, while Hubert’s car broke into two as the monocoque split from the rear section of the car.
Hubert was born in Lyon and started karting at the age of 12, before beginning his single-seater career in 2013. He competed in the French F4 Championship, winning the title that year, and progressed through Formula Renault, Formula 3 and GP3, where he clinched last year’s championship with ART that secured him a place in this year’s Formula Two championship with BWT Arden.
He was also part of the Renault Academy programme in the hope of reaching Formula One in the near future, and team principal Cyril Abiteboul issued a statement on behalf of the French manufacturer.
“Our thoughts are with Anthoine’s friends and family at this tragic time,” Abiteboul said. “Anthoine was a bright young man. His performance and conduct on and off track was that of a true gentleman and it was a pleasure and honour to have had him within our Academy.
“He will be sorely missed by our teams at Enstone and Viry. His spirit will remain with the team and we will race in his memory.”
A number of tributes were posted on social media by members of the Formula One paddock, with F2 the chief support series to the world championship.
Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton wrote on Instagram: “This is devastating. God rest your soul Anthoine. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family today,” he wrote.
“If a single one of you watching and enjoying this sport think for a second what we do is safe your [sic] hugely mistaken. All these drivers put their life on the line when they hit the track and people need to appreciate that in a serious way because it is not appreciated enough.
“Not from the fans nor some of the people actually working in the sport. Anthoine is a hero as far as I’m concerned, for taking the risk he did to chase his dreams. I’m so sad that this has happened. Let’s lift him up and remember him. Rest in peace brother.”
British McLaren driver Lando Norris said “Rest in peace Anthoine”, while the team added: “It is with deep sadness that McLaren Racing learns of the passing of Anthoine Hubert in today’s Formula 2 race. The team sends its heartfelt condolences to Anthoine’s family and loved ones, his colleagues at the Arden team, and the entire F2 community.
“The team’s thoughts and best wishes are with Juan-Manuel Correa and his family.”
2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button wrote: “Devastating news from Spa today, the super talented Anthoine Hubert succumbed to his injuries after an accident in today’s F2 race. Rest in peace Champion.”
Former F1 driver Paul Di Resta added: “I have no words. RIP.”
Current F1 constructors’ championship leaders Mercedes posted: “The entire Mercedes family sends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Anthoine Hubert, and his Arden and Renault teams on this tragic day.”
Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix is expected to go ahead as planned, but the Formula Two sprint race scheduled for the morning has been cancelled out of respect for Hubert.
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