The Renault Formula 1 team had agreed a 2020 programme in Formula 2 for Anthoine Hubert ahead of his tragic death at the Belgian Grand Prix.

22-year-old Hubert succumbed to injuries he sustained in a violent crash on the second lap of the opening F2 race of the weekend at Spa on Saturday.

The Frenchman was a member of Renault’s young driver programme and was steadily rising up the junior ranks, having sealed the 2018 GP3 title prior to stepping up to F2 for his rookie campaign this year.

A string of impressive performances and two victories in the opening 16 races of the season had been enough to persuade Renault to fix a second consecutive year in the series for Hubert.

“It was the hardest weekend for the Academy and for me personally,” said Renault sport academy director Mia Sharizman.

“Everyone in the Academy looked up to Anthoine as being the benchmark for how to conduct themselves on and off track. He was humble and yet fast, he was caring and yet focused on being the best.

“He would help the younger drivers in the Academy and still complete his own training programme with absolute maximum effort.

“Anthoine spent the last week of his life with the Academy boys at the training camp in the Pyrenees. It was he who convinced me that it will be good for everyone and he wanted to achieve this along with his fellow drivers as it was ‘a once in a lifetime achievement for all’. That is Anthoine – always thinking about others.

“Anthoine was moving up nicely in the Academy where we already identified his F2 programme for 2020. He will be a great lost for us as he was also crucial in the development of the F1 team too.

“It’s going to be difficult to move on but Anthoine would want each and everyone in the Academy to reach their goals and be the best they can be. There are races and championships to be won.

“The rest of the boys will focus on this, as they know that is what Anthoine would have wanted them to do. He has made everyone in the Academy a better person. That is how we will remember him.”

Ahead of Sunday’s race, Renault non-executive director and four-time world champion Alain Prost had revealed the 2020 F2 deal had been fixed earlier on the day Hubert died, adding the incident shows the sport still has room to improve safety to “make things even better”.

Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul also paid tribute to Hubert, telling Sky Sports: “His talent is something special, it was building up. He didn’t come and smash all the junior series, I’m not going to revisit the history, but clearly he was on the way up. That’s really impressive.

“The [GP3] title last year is giving him a new energy and what was standing out was the hard work. He will stand as an example of what’s possible with hard work.

“I don’t think a lot of people would have given him the chance of doing what he was doing, purely on raw talent. But the work, the commitment, the way he was engaging with people, is an example.”

 

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