While Daniel Ricciardo managed to finish sixth fastest in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, his Renault team was hit with the devastating news that one of its young talents, Anthoine Hubert, had died in the F2 feature race.
Hubert, 22, ran off track coming out of the fast Raidillon corner exit, hitting a barrier and spearing back into the path of US driver Juan Manuel Correa.
The Frenchman’s BWT-Arden car was T-boned by the Sauber and both cars disintegrated.
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The FIA has tweeted that Correa is in a “stable condition” in hospital.
Renault Sport Racing issued a statement, saying the team was devastated at the loss of one of its brightest young talents.
“Anthoine was a member of the Renault Sport Academy and raced in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the final ladder to F1,” the statement said.
“As reigning GP3 champion … [he] was a huge talent who also brought great energy and positivity to his championship, his teams and the Renault Sport Academy.
His smile and sunny personality lit up our formidable group of young drivers, who had formed tight and enduring bonds.’’
Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul, the managing director of Renault Sport Racing, said Hubert 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,” Abiteboul said
“His spirit will remain with the team and we will race in his memory.”
Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton said Hubert was following his dream and on Instagram said there needed to be more recognition of how dangerous the sport could be.
“If a single one of you watching and enjoying this sport think for a second what we do is safe you’re hugely mistaken,” Hamilton said.
“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.”
While the F2 race was cancelled, Formula One’s Belgian Grand Prix will be held on Sunday night (AEST), with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc starting on pole ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton third.
Ricciardo’s strong qualifying in his Renault was marred by a technical penalty and he will start from 10th.
“We’ve got some decent cars around us but I think we will be able to get inside the top 10 and do something from there. But how far we can go who knows?” the Australian told Sky.
“Spa is a bit like race 1 of the year, it’s always a little bit hectic,” he said.
“After the break everyone is a bit excited.
“There’s still a bit of alcohol in everyone’s system,” he joked, “so Turn 1 can always produce something.”