Being familiar with motor racing, you are aware of one thing from the offset – it is dangerous and, with the sport, there is this risk of danger that exists. Yet, despite keeping that premise in mind, and being reminded by the dozens of signs at a race circuit, losing a driver leaves you with this enormous dark cloud of sadness and grief.
Anthoine Hubert was an incredibly bright talent with an even brighter future ahead of him. And yet, on Saturday afternoon, that came abruptly to an end at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps during an FIA Formula 2 race. As a racing driver, they know the risks and the potential outcomes, yet he chose to dedicate his life to racing to achieve his dreams.
I did not know Anthoine personally, yet I work with clients daily who race in the same field. They knew him well and I have never heard a bad word uttered about him. Despite having never spoken to him, on Saturday evening I, along with the rest of the motorsport community, felt an enormous sadness as the news came to light. Anthone, at just 22-years-old, had sadly passed away. Throughout the evening I was not able to focus properly; my mind kept going back to one thing. I was – and am – experiencing grief despite never having a conversation with the Frenchman.
That night I barely slept. I had a text from a friend at 02:00 saying they were struggling too. It was a shock. It was unimaginable certainly for my generation of motorsport fans. I guess, admittedly, I had become a bit complacent with the safety of motorsport. Granted, the sport is safe compared to decades ago, yet there is still an immense element of risk that exists. On Saturday, a chain of events amounted in a rising star tragically losing his life.
Many drivers have crashed at the same speed as Anthoine and survived, but horrifically the GP3 champion did not. The accident is a stark reminder, certainly for me, of the risks that the drivers take when racing.
Jules Bianchi was the first man to lose his life in a Formula 1 race since Ayrton Senna in 1994. Now, Anthoine Hubert is the latest and the motorsport world is reminded that he may not be the last.
Drivers face peril when racing. There is a reason why motorsport is considered extreme. Anthoine’s death is certainly a stark reminder of the risks, although that does not make it any easier to digest.
I could hardly bring myself to watch the F1 race on Sunday, and I certainly avoided the Formula 3 action. It left me feeling numb, and it did not feel right to watch the cars racing up the same corner exit where Anthoine’s crash occurred.
The racing world lost a gem of a person – a man who was humble, bright, and incredibly skilled at racing. Anthoine will be deeply missed, but he will be forever remembered for his racing craft and infectious smile.
The danger of motorsport has been freshly present and now, more so, the risks are apparent.
And, it is with a heavy heart that I must conclude with rest in peace, Anthoine. Your legacy will live on forever in our hearts and memories.