Anthoine Hubert, a 22 year old Formula 2 driver, has died following a horrific accident at Spa Francorchamps. Running out of Eau Rouge and up the hill through Raidillon, Hubert seems to have come together with Juan Manuel Correa after colliding with a barrier and bouncing back onto the circuit. Hubert succumbed to his injuries while Correa is reported to be in a stable condition.
It is, in this day and age, a thankful rarity that a racing driver be taken while competing, the last in an FIA event was Jules Bianchi at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, although he actually passed about ten months after the accident itself. Before Bianchi and speaking strictly of races, it was Ayrton Senna in 1994.*
But just because the fatality rate in motorsport is now rare, it can never, ever be entirely eradicated. The risks drivers take in their pursuit of the extra tenth-of-a-second will always be huge, and it is a risk they accept. Every time a driver climbs into the monocoque of their missile – be it a race, a qualifying session, a practice session or even a shakedown test – they know that this may be the last time they go through their pre-driving rituals.
The young Hubert, just like his contempories up-and-down the Belgian paddock this evening, and elsewhere around the world, would have accepted these risks earlier today. And through the pursuit of his career, that elusive tenth, he paid the ultimate price.
As Lewis Hamilton commented in reaction to this tragic outcome, don’t ever think racing drivers are not heroes. Don’t ever think motorsport is ever safe.
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. Lewis Hamilton
For as it is as safe as it possibly can be in any given moment, there is only so much the human body can sustain. There is only so much risk that can be mitigated.
Today, Anthoine Hubert exceeded that level. But in the hope that something positive can be taken from such great tragedy, at least he exceeded those limits doing what he so dearly loved.
Let’s lift him up and remember him.
*Lest we never forget Maria de Villota, or indeed the young Henry Surtees, who did tragically pass during an FIA-sanctioned Formula 2 race in 2009.