Motorsports family gather to honour crash victim Anthoine Hubert
Brought together by sorrow, the motorsport family gathered in Chartres, north-central France, on Tuesday for the funeral of Anthoine Hubert, killed in a Formula 2 crash at the Belgian Grand Prix late last month.
"It's hard to believe that our passion could have separated us," Hubert's girlfriend Julie told several hundred mourners at a ceremony that lasted over three hours and was shown on a giant screen outside the town's historic French Gothic cathedral.
In turn, the driver's father Francois, former Formula 1 driver Alain Prost, friend Amaury, girlfriend Julie and long-time sponsor Olivier Lamirault paid tribute to the 22-year-old they call "my big man", "Tonio", "my Nini" or "my kid".
"Anthoine, your smile, your positive energy, that's the image we all have of you," said four-time F1 world champion Prost, representing Hubert's team Renault Sport Racing.
The Frenchman recalled "the kindness, curiosity, intelligence, professionalism and gentleness" of Hubert, adding that his "discernment and the quest for perfection would have propelled towards a bright future".
In front of a black-and-white portrait of Hubert proudly waving a French flag, Julie said: "If only you knew how much I hate this sport, this passion that brought us together but took your life. I had forgotten how dangerous it was, I think."
Hubert had won two F2 races this season, in Monaco and at the French Grand Prix.
"You were often underestimated," said Lamirault. "But this year, you were showing them all who you really were: a real 'racer'."
Hubert's friend Amaury remembered his "determination" and "rage to win" even when competing during a dinner to see who could eat the most spring rolls.
His fellow drivers placed helmets Hubert wore during his young career at the altar.
Among those in attendance were current F1 drivers Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. The trio were his friends and rivals since their karting days.
Giuliano Alesi, who was also involved in the three-car crash, attended with his father Jean, a former driver.
The other driver in the crash, 20-year-old American Juan Manuel Correa, is "in a critical but stable condition", his family said last Saturday.
Another contemporary, Mick Schumacher, son of former world champion Michael, was also present, along with motorsports' leaders, such as Jean Todt, President of the International Automobile Federation, F1 directors Ross Brawn, Chase Carey and Renault officials. - AFP