Formula 1® world champion Lewis Hamilton has led the tributes to Anthoine Hubert, the 22-year-old Formula 2® driver who died following a crash at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Hubert's death was confirmed by the FIA after he was involved in an incident involving Juan Manuel Correa and Giuliano Alesi at Spa during Saturday's F2® feature race.
In a heartfelt post on his Instagram account, Hamilton hailed Hubert as a "hero" and referenced the continuing risk of participating in top-level motorsport.
"If a single one of you watching and enjoying this sport think for a second what we do is safe your [sic] hugely mistaken," wrote the Mercedes driver.
"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 [sic] 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 lift him up and remember him. Rest in peace brother."
Esteban Ocon, Mercedes' reserve driver who has agreed a move to Renault for 2020, posted a photo of himself and Hubert from their karting days on Twitter.
The image was captioned: "Can't believe it, we had the same age, we started racing together and battled on track for years. All my thoughts go to his family. Repose en paix [rest in peace] Anthoine.
Can’t believe it, we had the same age, we started racing together and battled on track for years.
All my thoughts goes to his family. Repose en paix Anthoine pic.twitter.com/ud5U7k4UAQ
— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) August 31, 2019
Red Bull's Max Verstappen, a year younger than Ocon and Hubert at 21, tweeted: "Absolutely shocked by the tragic accident of Anthoine Hubert. Terrible. My thoughts are with him and his family, friends, team and loved ones."
Another 21-year-old F1® star, Charles Leclerc, wrote on Instagram: "I can't believe it. Rest in peace," while former world champion Nico Rosberg also paid tribute to Hubert and offered well wishes to Correa, who was in a stable condition in hospital following the incident.
"Incredibly sad news. RIP Anthoine," wrote Rosberg on Twitter. "My thoughts are with your family and friends. Also praying that Juan-Manuel gets through ok now."
Fernando Alonso, another ex-world champion, added: "What a sad afternoon. I have no words. It hurts the heart. Rest in peace, champ."