Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver Pierre Gasly says the Belgian Grand Prix was “the most emotional” race he has ever had following the death of his close friend Anthoine Hubert.

Hubert, a childhood friend of Gasly’s, was killed in a crash during the supporting Formula 2 race in Belgium on Saturday at the age of 22, sending shockwaves throughout the Spa paddock and wider motorsport community.

Gasly went on to finish ninth to collect two points for Toro Rosso in his first race outing since being demoted from Red Bull.

“I think it was for sure the most emotional pre-race I ever had because you are not ready at 22, 23 years old, to live this kind of moments, to lose one your best mates,” Gasly explained.

“I’ve grown up with these guys since I was seven in karting, we’ve been room-mates, we’ve lived in the same apartment, in the same room for six years.

“We’ve been class mates, I’ve studied since I was 13 until 19 with him, with the same professor at a private school that the federation did. I’m still shocked.

“I just don’t realise how it can go so fast. It’s just terrible. I’ve already planned to see all our friends we had in common with Anthoine tomorrow because none of us really understand and realise what has happened yesterday and it’s just super sad.

“You have to [put it out of your mind] because otherwise you can’t race,” he added.

“Once you put the helmet on and go for the formation lap you’re in a different zone and frame of mind, but straight after the chequered flag it was the thing that came into my mind. I’m happy to score these two points.”

Charles Leclerc claimed Ferrari’s first victory of 2019 at Spa and dedicated his maiden grand prix win to Hubert. Gasly revealed he spoke to Leclerc prior to the race and told him he hoped the Monegasque would win to honour their friend.

“I told Charles before the race ‘please win this race for Anthoine’ because we started racing in the same year, Charles, Anthoine and myself,” he said.

“And actually Anthoine won the French Cup in 2005. We just raced for so many years and knew each other. Between Jules [Bianchi] a couple of years ago, and now Anthoine, I think it’s really terrible news for French motorsport. they were two really great, amazing characters and it’s really difficult to realise.

“Over the summer break I was talking about safety [with] people who are not drivers and they were like ‘F1 is so safe now, it’s completely different than it used to be before’,” he added. “And I must say I agreed with them because it’s not something you think about.

“When you are in the car, I feel so safe I feel like almost nothing can happen to us. But at these kind of speeds it just brings you back to reality that whatever happens at 200, 250, 300, you can do whatever you want, I think there will be always this high chance of death and that’s also something we accept as drivers.

“But unfortunately there was this thing that happened to remind everybody it’s a really dangerous sport. I’m just really sad that it was one of my closest friends in racing.”



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