Four-time Formula 1 world champion Alain Prost says Anthoine Hubert’s death has highlighted how motor racing needs to make safety “even better” in the future.
In an emotional interview broadcast ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix the day after Hubert was killed in a crash during a Formula 2 support race, Prost also revealed that Renault had agreed to a 2020 F2 program for its junior driver on the day of the accident.
Prost, who had overseen Hubert’s recent progress as Renault’s non-executive team director, said that the tragedy was especially difficult for him to deal with because of how close his team was to Hubert.
“It is a hard day for the racing community,” he told F1 TV.
“It was very sad and very tough for us. know, he was a member of our Academy, and it was a tough day with [his] family there, and friends and brother.
“It is something that I personally remember what we got in the 1980 s.
“We always think that it cannot happen any more, but yes We know motor racing is dangerous. A lot of sports are dangerous anyway, and maybe motor racing is one of the safety sports.
“You can see in [cycling] that we had two young guys dead [in recent races], and it always happens to young people.
“It is very tough but we can see we are all together and we need to make things even better, improving [to make things] better. But we love this sport, we love life. “
Hubert had progressed well since joining the Renault Academy full-time for 2019, and an impressive rookie season in F2 appeared to have convinced the manufacturer to keep him there for 2020.
Prost explained: “I pushed him in the Academy, we were He was a nice kid, very intelligent, very clever, very curious.
“He did some tests in F1 this year with us in Austria. We had a program already fixed since [Saturday] in F2 next year.
“We wanted to help him maybe until F1, so it is 22 is much too young I am sure . “
Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul told Sky F1: “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 [gave] 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. “
Abiteboul: Right for GP to go ahead
The second F2 race of the weekend was cancelled, but Sunday’s Formula 3 race went ahead and the Belgian GP will still take place.
Abiteboul said it was marginal for the F3 race to take place, given the age of the drivers involved, but said the added maturity of F1 drivers means they are more “robust” emotionally.
“It was the right thing to cancel the F2 race,” Abiteboul told Sky F1. “There was no way that Bruno [Michel, F2 boss] or Chase [Carey, F1 CEO] would perform that race.
“It was a close call in F3, because it’s young people. Really young people.
“As for F1 drivers they have a certain form of maturity, our own drivers are in their 30 s, they are a bit more robust. “
Abiteboul said his drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg, were both affected by the accident in different ways, and cancelled their post-qualifying Saturday evening commitments while awaiting news.
He added: “We all want to be moving away from Spa – which doesn’t mean moving on from that incident, because I think it’s something we want to think about and not put behind too quickly.
“It’s going to be strange being racing, but that’s why we’re also saying we will be racing for Anthoine.
“We want that on our car because that’s precisely what we ‘ ll be doing. “
A minute’s silence was held early on Sunday morning, with Hubert’s mother and brother in attendance.
Abiteboul said Renault had tried to offer what support it can.
“We’ve been coming up with simple things,” he said. “You like to change things, but can’t.
” You come with your humanity, with your availability, being close to the family and friends who were around in Spa and making sure that everyone is united and show a united face, which is not always easy in F1.
“[We have been] trying to leave the small things in F1 behind and for once acting as a real family. “