Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert has been killed in a crash at the Belgian Grand Prix, motorsport’s governing body the FIA has said.
The Frenchman, who was 22, suffered a huge impact from the car of American Juan Manuel Correa at about 170mph at the Raidillon swerves, reports BBC.
An FIA statement said that Hubert was taken to the medical centre after the incident, and died at 18:35 local time.
Correa is in intensive care, but his condition is stable, after surgery. The 20-year-old suffered fractures to both his legs and a “minor spinal injury” in the crash and was taken to hospital by helicopter.
“Juan Manuel remained conscious the entire time until his admission to the operating room,” a statement said.
The race was stopped after the crash and cancelled within a few minutes when the potential seriousness of the accident became clear.
Formula 2 have announced that Sunday’s sprint race at Spa has been cancelled “out of respect”, while the Formula 3 race will go ahead.
Hubert, who drove for the BWT Arden team, was lying eighth in the championship and had scored two wins this season, in Monaco and France.
He was also part of Renault F1’s young driver programme. Renault said in a statement: “Anthoine was a member of the Renault Sport Academy and raced in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the final ladder to F1.
“As reigning GP3 champion and member of the Equipe de France, FFSA (French Federation of Motorsport), the Frenchman was a huge talent who also brought great energy and positivity to his championship, his teams and the Renault Sport Academy.
“His smile and sunny personality lit up our formidable group of young drivers, who had formed tight and enduring bonds.
“His strong results in F2 this season, including wins on home soil in Monaco and France, inspired not just the other recruits but also the wider Renault Sport Racing group.”
Other racing drivers and teams from across motorsport have paid tribute on social media.
Former F1 driver Fernando Alonso posted on Twitter: “What a sad afternoon. I have no words. It hurts the heart. Rest in peace, champ.”
Lewis Hamilton wrote on Instagram: “This is devastating. God rest your soul Anthoine. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family today.
“If a single one of you watching and enjoying this sport think for a second what we do is safe your hugely mistaken. All these drivers put their life on the line when they hit the track and people need to appreciate that in a serious way because it is not appreciated enough.
“Not from the fans nor some of the people actually working in the sport. Anthoine is a hero as far as I’m concerned, for taking the risk he did to chase his dreams. I’m so sad that this has happened. Let’s left him up and remember him. Rest in peace brother.”
Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi said on Twitter: “We are boys who, with great sacrifice, chase their dreams. But we are first and foremost professionals. Anthoine was all this, but above all he was one of us. At this terrible time my thoughts are with his family and all the people who love him.”