CHARTRES (France) • Brought together by sorrow the motor racing family gathered in Chartres, north-central France on Tuesday for the funeral of Anthoine Hubert, who was killed in a Formula Two crash at the Belgian Grand Prix late last month.
"It's hard to believe that our passion could have separated us," his girlfriend Julie Lajoux told several hundred mourners at a ceremony that lasted more than three hours and was shown on a giant screen outside the town's historic French Gothic cathedral.
The driver's father, Francois, former Formula One driver Alain Prost, friend Amaury Richard, Lajoux and long-time sponsor Olivier Lamirault paid tribute to the 22-year-old.
"Anthoine, your smile, your positive energy, that's the image we all have of you," said Prost, representing Hubert's team Renault Sport Racing. The four-time F1 world champion recalled his "kindness, curiosity, intelligence, professionalism and gentleness" and said Hubert's "discernment and the quest for perfection would have propelled (him) towards a bright future".
In front of a black-and-white portrait of the young man proudly waving a French flag, Lajoux said: "If you only knew how much I hate this sport, this passion that brought us together but took your life. I had forgotten how dangerous it was."
Hubert had won two F2 races this season, in Monaco and at the French Grand Prix. Among those in attendance were current F1 drivers, Monegasque Charles Leclerc and Frenchmen Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. The trio were his friends and rivals since their karting days.
Giuliano Alesi, who was also involved in the three-car crash, attended with his father and former driver Jean. The other driver in the crash, 20-year-old American Juan Manuel Correa, is "in a critical but stable condition", his family said on Saturday.
Another contemporary, Mick Schumacher, son of former world champion Michael, was also present.
Also at the service were the likes of Jean Todt, president of the International Automobile Federation, F1 directors Ross Brawn, Chase Carey and Sean Bratches, as well as team executives Mattia Binotto of Ferrari, Cyril Abiteboul of Renault and Fred Vasseur of Alfa Romeo Racing.