AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly expanded on his long-term friendship with the late Anthoine Hubert, as the Formula 1 paddock prepares to pay tribute on the anniversary of his death.
Renault junior driver Hubert was killed in a multi-car crash during last year’s Formula 2 Feature Race at Spa-Francorchamps, the venue for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Gasly laid flowers on Thursday morning at the scene of the accident and went on to pay tribute to his late friend.
“I have thousands of memories from Antoine, I was lucky to grow up with him,” he said.
“So, from my first season in karting, when I was nine, I started to race against him. And then from the age of 13 we both decided to leave our homes to go in the school that the [French] Federation sort of built for us drivers.
“From the age of 13 until I was 18 I spent basically from 7:30 at breakfast in the morning until 10pm in the evening each single day together.
“We were in the same classes, we were training together, we were racing together.
“There was consistent competition, whether when we were in the class, when we were training together… if he was doing 15 push-ups, I would do 16, and then he would try 17.
“Then if we will play PlayStation, we’ll spend hours in it just to beat the time of each other, on Gran Turismo or Formula 1 game.
“He was a very smart guy, very dedicated in everything he was doing. And that’s why I had huge respect for him.”
Formula 1 and Formula 2 will pay tribute to Hubert this weekend, with a minute’s silence, while the #AH19 hashtag and logo will feature prominently on social media and TV broadcasts.
“I actually know that I would have never achieved what I did without growing with him,” said Gasly.
“We were pushing each other so much, whether it was on track or off the track, that it just made me a better athlete, made me a better driver.
“It’s been part of my self-development as a person and as a driver. And I can only be grateful for that.
“After Budapest last year I had Sunday dinner with him, and we shared a nice moment with his girlfriend and another friend, on Sunday night after Budapest, and this was the last time I saw him.
“He was one of the first ones to send me a text when Red Bull decided to put me back in Toro Rosso. For me it is just very hard to accept he’s not with us anymore.”