By Abhishek Takle
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) – French racing driver Anthoine Hubert died following a high-speed crash during a Formula Two race at the Belgian Grand Prix, motorsport’s governing body said on Saturday.
The 22-year-old was hit by Ecuadorian-American driver Juan Manuel Correa after he had already gone off into the barriers at the Spa-Francorchamps track’s fast Raidillon corner.
The governing FIA said in a statement that Hubert died at 1835 local time and it had begun an investigation into the incident.
Correa, who was also injured in the crash, was in a stable condition and was receiving treatment at the CHU Liege hospital, the FIA added.
The crash, which involved multiple cars, occurred on the second lap of the race, with medical crews rushing to the scene before taking the drivers to the circuit’s medical centre.
The race was first suspended and was later abandoned.
The series cancelled its second race of the weekend, which was scheduled to take place ahead of the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday.
Hubert graduated to Formula Two, a proving ground for Formula One hopefuls, this season after clinching the GP3 championship last year.
Driving for Arden, he won two races this year in Monaco and at his home Grand Prix in France and was eighth in the overall standings.
Hubert’s death is the first driver fatality at a Formula One race weekend since Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger were killed at Imola in 1994.
Jules Bianchi, who suffered serious head injuries at the Japanese Grand Prix in October 2014, succumbed to his injuries in July the following year.
Many of the drivers who race in Formula Two either have links to Formula One teams or are part of their young driver programmes.
Hubert was a member of the Renault young driver academy and tributes to the Frenchman poured in.
“Anthoine was a bright young man,” said Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul.
“His performance and conduct on and off track was that of a true gentleman and it was a pleasure and honour to have had him within our academy.
“He will be sorely missed by our teams at Enstone and Viry. His spirit will remain with the team and we will race in his memory.”
Five-times Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton paid his respects in a social media post.
“Anthoine is a hero as far as I’m concerned, for taking the risk he did to chase his dreams,” the Briton said on Instagram.
“I’m so sad that this has happened. Let’s lift him up and remember him.
“Rest in peace brother.”
(Reporting by Abhishek Takle; editing by Toby Davis)