Obituary: Anthoine Hubert 1996 - 2019

Anthoine Hubert was one of motorsport’s rising stars. He was a member of Renault’s Formula 1 driver academy, and had already impressed with his performance and guile during his rookie Formula 2 campaign in 2019.

Hubert was born in Lyon in 1996 and initially rose through the ranks in karting. Despite struggling for financial backing, in 2013 he stepped up to single-seaters after receiving career guidance and backing from the French motorsport federation.

Their faith in his talents was rewarded when he delivered the French Formula 4 title in his just first year of racing single-seaters.

That title earned him the right to step up to Formula Renault 2.0’s categories across 2014 and 2015, taking two wins in his second campaign in the division, battling the likes of future F2 rivals Jack Aitken and Louis Deletraz.

Hubert’s next step came in ultra competitive European Formula 3 series, linking up with the crack Van Amersfoort Racing squad. After a rocky start, he eventually came good.

Taking a maiden with at the Norisring, Hubert only once more missed the points-paying positions as he surged up to eighth in the championship.

The young Frenchman then made the sideways step into the Formula 1-supporting GP3 Series in 2017 where he joined the championship’s dominant ART Grand Prix operation.

Initially facing stiff opposition against the likes of his F1-backed team-mates George Russell, Aitken and Nirei Fukuzumi, he frequently held his own and took a fighting fourth in the championship, mounting the podium on four occasions.

But it was in 2018 when his career really started to accelerate.

Having remained in the GP3 Series, he was identified as one of the pre-season favourites and he duly delivered on such expectations.

Hubert learned from previous champions as he married pure speed with consistency, an awareness of tyre saving, and intelligence, as he only missed the podium at one round all season.

He took two wins, on home soil in France and again in Britain, and while his win in round seven of 18 proved to be his last in GP3, he drove thereafter with the title in mind.

Hubert finished all of the next races inside the top four (aside from a disqualification) as he wrapped up the title to become the final GP3 champion prior to its merger with Formula 3.

Prior to 2018 Renault had been alerted to its talented and recruited Hubert as an Affiliate Driver, and for 2019 promoted him to become a fully-fledged member of its young driver scheme.

He also secured a deal in Formula 2 with the BWT-Arden operation, a team which had struggled for overall results in recent years in the championship.

But Hubert immediately impressed on his debut weekend in Bahrain as he surged from 11th to fourth place in the race, demonstrating eye-catching long-run pace and tyre preservation skills for a rookie in exceptionally hot conditions.

He remained a regular front-runner throughout the campaign and took stunning Sprint Race victories in Monaco and France.

In Monaco he edged out Deletraz in a thrilling photo finish and in France he delivered an emotional victory on home soil, much to his delight and that of the fans on Sunday morning at Paul Ricard.

In the paddock Hubert was an amiable, humble and approachable character whose relative shyness belied his pure skill behind the wheel, and who undoubtedly had the talent to make it to the very top.

His death will undoubtedly raise questions about how and where to improve safety standards in motorsport, and no-one who witnessed the horrific footage will forget such a devastating scene.

But don’t remember how his career was untimely cut short. Remember him rising through the ranks. Remember him becoming the GP3 champion. Remember his utter joy and elation at winning in Formula 2. Remember how the usually introverted Hubert collected his GP3 trophy in Abu Dhabi, and upon receiving the microphone, made the usual platitudes, before belting out La Marseillaise at top volume. He loved it. His ART mechanics loved it. The entire paddock loved it. Remember him like that.

Repose en paix, Anthoine