In Loving Memory of Anthoine Hubert
Saturday, August 31, 2019.
I remember that day so well.
When I think about it, it feels like yesterday. I don’t think the memory, or the pain, will ever fade.
I remember everything I was doing on Saturday, August 31, 2019. From the exact moment my boyfriend told me about the accident, to the moment my sister told me the news I feared, but hoped would never come. I even remember seeing footage of the accident on Twitter. It’s something I will never be able to erase from my memory.
I didn’t think it would have this outcome. I guess, as a fan of motorsport, you know the risk is always there, but you don’t like to believe it when it actually happens. The sport we love is so cruel like that. It’s still cruel today.
I barely followed Formula 2 at this point. I kept up-to-date with the results, but I’d never watched a race in full or totally engaged with it. I know now that if I was watching that race live, my perception of motorsport would probably be quite different.
If I’m being totally honest, I didn’t know anything about Anthoine Hubert. I wish I did. As soon as I heard the name, in reports coming out of Spa, I moved quickly to Google and did a brief search. Like if it were any driver, though, my heart was aching. I thought about each driver involved in the crash - Hubert, Correa and Alesi - and all I could do was hope for the best, hope for a positive outcome and some good news.
Two years ago, we lost a shining talent in young Anthoine Hubert.
It shocked the entire motorsport community. I don’t think anyone ever expects this type of thing to happen – I guess it just lingers in the very back of your mind – but since the awful accident in Spa in 2019, it has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be, as a driver, to go back to such a track. Of course, it’s their job, but losing a friend and a colleague in such awful circumstances is something no human can easily get over. Going back to Spa takes a lot of courage, and you have to applaud the drivers for what they do weekend after weekend. Nobody, not even fans, goes into the Belgian Grand Prix race weekend without thinking about Anthoine and all those who knew him.
Pierre Gasly grew up with the fellow young Frenchman, and they lived, studied and raced together throughout their teenage years. Many will know about the empowering text message Anthoine sent to Pierre after his demotion from Red Bull Racing was announced; ‘Prove Them Wrong’. A message which a lot of people probably think about all the time – I certainly do. In only two years and after leaving Red Bull to join Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri again), Pierre has achieved so much; one win, multiple podiums and consistently solid results. He’s well and truly proving them wrong.
Charles Leclerc also knew Anthoine from a young age, after growing up in the racing ranks together. Only one day after the death of his friend, Leclerc won his first ever Grand Prix with Ferrari, and dedicated that win to Hubert. I remember the post-race team radio so well. I think the entire day brought a tear or two to everyone’s eye.
Juan Manuel Correa drove at Spa in a Formula 3 car for the first time since the accident last weekend, during a Formula 1 race weekend we’ll never forget. Despite the awful rain and poor visibility, Correa completed every session of the weekend – for himself and also for Anthoine. I will regard Juan Manuel Correa as an inspiration to me, and probably to thousands of others, for the rest of my life. The bravery and courage he has shown is truly like nothing I’ve known before and it shows that anything is possible.
I’ve been lucky enough to listen to personal stories involving Anthoine Hubert, in which those who knew him told me just how amazing he was. Truly, he sounds like the loveliest, most kind and caring person.
I know I am not the only person who will be struggling today. Thinking about the sport I love so much and how it can be so cruel leaves a million and one questions running wild in my head. I know a few hundred words might not be the most perfect tribute, but it’s what I can offer, and it all comes from my heart.
I will always love motorsport, but I know that I will also continue to see it differently to how I did before Spa 2019.
I wonder where Anthoine would be now if he was still with us. But, wherever he may be, I hope that he is proud of everything his friends are doing, both in terms of racing and encouraging change at dangerous tracks – like Spa.
I’m sure he is proud.
Rest well, Anthoine – we all miss you dearly.
Image: Formula 1