Charles Leclerc says Spa return will be 'difficult' a year on from Hubert's death

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Fans leave tributes to Anthoine Hubert
Anthoine Hubert was a childhood friend and rival of Charles Leclerc

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc says it will be "difficult" to return to Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, a year after his friend Anthoine Hubert died.

Frenchman Hubert, 22, was killed in a high-speed crash during a Formula 2 race at last year's Belgian Grand Prix.

Leclerc said: "Spa-Francorchamps has a special place in my heart.

"While it is here that I took my first win, it is also where we lost our friend Anthoine last year. He will be in our thoughts."

Leclerc took his maiden F1 win at last year's Belgian Grand Prix, 24 hours after the death of childhood friend and rival Hubert.

The loss deeply affected many of the Formula 1 drivers, who had to confront their own mortality in a way many had not experienced before.

Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly, another long-time friend of Hubert, said: "Spa is my favourite track and racing through all those high-speed corners is a great thrill. I really enjoy driving it and have had great races there in the past.

"However, this year, returning to Belgium will also be a sad moment, because it is just one year ago that Anthoine lost his life after that terrible accident in the F2 race in Spa.

"I had known him since I was seven years old in karting, we were in the same school together organised by the French motorsport federation, from when I was 13 to 19, and we shared an apartment for six years.

"I think everyone in the paddock will take time to think of him."

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