Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu was hit hard after losing a good friend when tragedy struck during a 2019 Formula 2 race at Spa, where a first-lap accident claimed the life of rising star Anthoine Hubert.
At 22 years of age, Hubert was a member of the Renault Sport Academy, and was seeking to join his good friends Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc in F1.
Zhou had been confirmed at Renault as a development driver at the start of the 2019 season after leaving the Ferrari Driver Academy, and as such, spent quality time with Hubert.
They became good friends after taking part in a cycling trip with the Renault Academy and racing together in F2. This made Hubert's sudden death even more difficult for the Chinese racer to deal with.
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A very dark weekend
"Yeah, it was a very dark weekend for the whole participants, but especially for us because the week before, we spent two weeks in France doing a cycling trip," said Zhou.
"All the academy drivers were there also. I was lucky I was there. [Hubert and I] shared a room most of the time because we were very good friends. Obviously, we were always racing, competing against each other in F2."
When the tragedy occurred, Zhou was only a few cars ahead of Hubert on track and didn't know what had happened to his friend until he returned to the pits following the red flag.
Hubert's accident 'difficult to accept'
"It was difficult to accept what happened because I was literally maybe two, three cars ahead of that queue.
"And I saw the guy or two behind me who lost control, then yeah, it was a red flag, so I didn't know what was happening until we stopped.
"I was quite shocked to hear what happened. But then, maybe 20 minutes later on, I heard the story that he was pretty much no more. So I was very shocked.
"And it was difficult to race and I think they did a good job to stop that race. But very sad to lose him. It was the first time for me to experience something like that. It's crazy."
At the end of the 2019 F2 season, Zhou was awarded the Anthoine Hubert Award for being the highest-finishing rookie in the series.
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