The devastating high-speed crash that killed Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix sent shockwaves through the sport.
Hubert, 22, was driving for the British team Arden and a Renault Sport Affiliated Driver. He was also friends with several F1 drivers, most notably fellow Frenchman Pierre Gasly.
The horror crash was witnessed by stars such as Lewis Hamilton who saw events unfold on TV.
Netflix ’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive documentary does not gloss over what happened but sensitively shows deals with the crash and the impact it had on other drivers.
Who was Anthoine Hubert?
The 2019 season was Hubert’s first in Formula 2 having won the GP3 championship the year before.
Born in 1996, he started karting at the age of 12 before going on to race in Formula 4, Formula Renault and the European Formula 3 championship during his teenage years.
In 2017 he joined GP3, two rungs below F1 on the motorsport ladder, going on to win the title a year later.
During his title-winning 2018 season he also became a Renault Sport Affiliated Driver.
For 2019 he made the step up to Formula 2 and won races in Monaco and France during his debut season.
Hubert had just started the second lap of the F2 feature race at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Saturday August 31.
Ahead of him rival Giuliano Alesi crashed due to a puncture as he climbed the notoriously fast Radillon curve. Drivers immediately behind him braked, but an unsighted Hubert clipped one of the slowing cars which sent him into the barriers at an acute angle.
That impact put Hubert’s car on its side and sent him into the path of Juan Manuel Correa who struck the Frenchman’s vehicle in the area around the cockpit at around 160mph.
That collision tore Hubert’s care in two and ripped off the front of Correa’s – which was also launched into the air before landing upside down. Frenchman Hubert was sent into the barriers for a second time before he eventually came to rest.
F1 stars including Lewis Hamilton saw the horrifically violent crash unfold on TV while giving interviews.
Breaking away from the question he was answering he remarked: "Oh wow. Hope that kid's good. Wow. That's terrifying." He then walked off without saying anything, clearly deeply concerned by what he’d just seen.
Doctors and marshals reached the drivers within seconds with Hubert and Correa both taken to the circuit’s medical centre where Hubert was officially declared dead at 18:35.
American Correa suffered spinal injuries and two broken legs while Alesi walked away unharmed.
Reaction to the crash
The racing community immediately paid its respects to Hubert.
Drivers from both F1 and F2 posted tributes on social media while cars and helmets carried stickers bearing Hubert’s name and number.
The Formula 2 feature race was abandoned along with the sprint race scheduled for the following day.
Ahead of the F1 Belgian Grand Prix on the Sunday (September 1) all drivers gathered around Hubert’s helmet for a minute’s silence. Race winner Charles Leclerc dedicated his maiden victory to the 22-year-old.
Hubert’s car number, 19, has since been retired from use in F2 while the Anthoine Hubert Award has been introduced at the FIA Formula 2 end-of-season prize giving ceremony in Monaco.
The award goes to that season’s highest-placed F2 rookie.
Five months after the fatal crash the FIA concluded that no driver was to blame.
An official report stated there was “no specific cause but multiple contributory factors” to the tragedy, adding that there was also “no evidence that any driver failed to react appropriately in response to the yellow flag or to the circumstances on track”.
The investigation concluded that “the reaction of marshals and race control in deploying signalling and rescue services is considered timely and good”.
Juan Manuel Correa
American driver Correa suffered fractures in both legs and a spinal injury.
A week after the crash he was placed into an induced coma after he developed acute respiratory distress syndrome in the days following the crash.
Correa was kept in a coma for a fortnight, waking again on September 20. However, it was another week until he was strong enough for further surgery on his legs.
A month after the crash he released a statement saying: “It’s been a very rough five weeks since the accident. Obviously I never said it publicly but I want to publicly give my deepest condolences to the Hubert family.”
He also admitted he may never fully recover but said he was “very grateful to be alive and very grateful for the people that have been with me”.
In November he gave more details to an Argentinian radio station, saying his recovery will take more than a year.
“Basically the doctors rebuilt my right leg, the left one suffered much milder injuries, a single surgery was enough.
“Unfortunately, it is most likely to never make a full recovery in my [right] leg. But I will fight to recover it enough to step on the throttle again.”
Shortly before the FIA published its report in early February Correa claimed that he had not been given access to the full report and said it “raises more questions than it provides answers”.
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