Anthoine Hubert, Arden, Spa, 2019

FIA report on Hubert’s fatal crash clears drivers of responsibility

Formula Two

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The FIA has released the findings of its reports into the crash during a Formula 2 race at Spa-Francorchamps last year which claimed the life of Anthoine Hubert and left Juan Manuel Correa with serious injuries.

Having concluded its investigation into the crash during the feature race on August 31st the FIA ruled all four drivers involved in the crash – Hubert and Correa plus Giuliano Alesi and Ralph Boschung – acted correctly.

The FIA’s investigation determined “there was no single specific cause” explaining why Correa’s car came to strike Hubert’s at an angle of almost 90 degrees. The fatal collision occured following a “chain of events [which] resulted in a protracted and complex crash sequence”. The analysis took into consideration physical evidence, video footage of the crash and the accounts of those involved.

The investigation found the crash began Alesi’s car struck a barrier at the exit of Eau Rouge. There is a “reasonable probability” Alesi lost control due to a right-rear tyre deflation, according to a summary of the investigation released by the FIA.

Boschung and Hubert moved to avoid the collision but the pair made contact with each other. Hubert, travelling at over 260kph, lost his front wing and struck the barrier at Raidillon (turn four). That impact sent his car back towards oncoming traffic.

Start, F2, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019
The crash occured on lap two of the race
The first yellow flags were shown 1.8 seconds after Alesi hit the barrier. However 1.5 seconds after the yellow flag was shown Correa struck debris from Alesi’s car. Now out of control, Correa’s car struck Hubert’s 1.6 seconds later.

Data from the investigation revealed Correa’s car was travelling at 218kph when it hit Hubert’s at an angle of 86 degrees. Hubert’s car sustained an 81G impact an accelerated from a virtual standstill to over 100kph as a result.

“The dynamics of the car-to-car impact in terms of speed and trajectory were such that an extremely high level of energy was transferred and dissipated, translating into non-survivable trauma to Anthoine Hubert and very serious injuries to Juan Manuel Correa,” the report summary noted.

“The investigation found no evidence that any driver failed to react appropriately in response to the yellow flag signal or to the circumstances on track,” it added. “The reaction of marshals and race control in deploying signaling and rescue services in relation to the accident is considered timely and good.”

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The full FIA statement on the August 31st Spa crash

The FIA’s Safety department has completed its investigation into the accident in the FIA Formula 2 Championship race at Spa-Francorchamps on 31st August 2019, in which French driver Anthoine Hubert suffered fatal injuries and Juan Manuel Correa from the United States was seriously injured.

The investigation included interviews with those involved, inspection of the physical evidence, analysis of available video material, as well as examination of the data from the team Data Logger and Accident Data Recorder. This investigative work has been peer-reviewed by the FIA Research Working Group, chaired by Professor Gérard Saillant. The findings were approved by the FIA Safety Commission, which is led by Commission President Sir Patrick Head, and presented to the World Motor Sport Council.

The investigation focused on the four cars that were involved in the accident – number 19 driven by Anthoine Hubert, number 12 driven by Juan Manuel Correa, number 20 driven by Frenchman Giuliano Alesi, and number 21 driven by Switzerland’s Ralph Boschung.

During the opening lap, an unrelated incident involving a slow-moving car caused a yellow flag at turns 12 and 13 (Fagnes). The race leader began lap two, at which point sector one was under a green flag.

The accident sequence, which lasted a total of 14.6 seconds, was initiated on lap two when Giuliano Alesi lost control of his car on the exit of turn three (Eau Rouge), initially spinning and leaving the track on the left-hand side, before impacting the barrier rearwards 1.9 seconds after the loss of control and rebounding onto the track after turn four (Raidillon). The investigation has highlighted a reasonable probability that a loss of internal pressure of the right rear tyre contributed to the loss of control of Giuliano Alesi’s car.

Following the impact of Giuliano Alesi’s car with the barrier, the debris from broken components was spread onto the race track. In an attempt to avoid Giuliano Alesi and the debris, Ralph Boschung and then Anthoine Hubert moved to the right, leaving the track and entering the run-off area of turn four. The reaction of Ralph Boschung and Anthoine Hubert to the accident of car number 20 started prior to the yellow flag being deployed, due to the proximity of these cars at the time of the incident. The yellow flag was deployed by the marshals at post five (turn four) 1.8 seconds after the impact of Giuliano Alesi’s car with the barrier.

During this manoeuvre, Ralph Boschung slowed more abruptly than Anthoine Hubert, who took action to avoid a collision by moving further to the right. Despite this move, Anthoine Hubert made contact with the back of Ralph Boschung’s car, losing his front wing and causing a right rear tyre puncture to Ralph Boschung ahead.

Travelling at 262 km/h and with his front wing missing, Anthoine Hubert lost control and was set on a trajectory towards the barrier on the right-hand side of the turn four exit run-off area, which he impacted at an angle of approximately 40 degrees at a speed of 216 km/h, generating a peak force equivalent to 33.7g.

Following the impact and energy absorption by the barrier, the car was ejected and continued to travel in the racing direction while rotating, such that the left-hand side of the chassis was facing oncoming cars in the run-off area of turn four.

In the meantime, Juan Manuel Correa was approaching the scene of Giuliano Alesi’s accident. He was travelling approximately on the racing line, towards the right-hand side of the track on the exit of turn four when he hit debris left behind from Giuliano Alesi’s car. The impact with the debris was approximately 1.5 seconds after the yellow flag had been deployed and it resulted in front-right suspension damage and the loss of the front wing, causing Juan Manuel Correa to lose control. His car veered to the right, off track and into the run-off area of turn four, setting him on a trajectory that would result in the car-to-car impact with Anthoine Hubert 1.6 seconds later.

Juan Manuel Correa hit the left-hand side of Anthoine Hubert’s car at an approximate angle of 86 degrees and a speed of 218 km/h, while the car of Anthoine Hubert was virtually stationary. car number 12 (Juan Manuel Correa) and car number 19 (Anthoine Hubert) experienced a resultant peak force equivalent to 65.1g and 81.8g.

Following the car-to-car impact, Anthoine Hubert’s car was accelerated to 105.4 km/h and struck the barrier a second time before rebounding back towards the track.

Double yellow flags were deployed 2.5 seconds after the car-to-car impact, followed by a red flag 2.7 seconds later as car number 19 (Anthoine Hubert) came to rest on track on its left-hand side, with car number 12 (Juan Manuel Correa) stopping in an inverted position on track 2.6 seconds later.

The medical and rescue response started 12 seconds after the initial loss of control of car number 20 (Giuliano Alesi), immediately after the double yellow flag was deployed and prior to car number 12 (Juan Manuel Correa) coming to rest. The first on site medical evaluation of Anthoine Hubert was conducted 54 seconds after the red flag.

At 16 seconds after the deployment of the red flag, a fire started under car number 12 (Juan Manuel Correa) due to a fuel leak. The fire was extinguished by a marshal within two seconds and the first on site medical evaluation of Juan Manuel Correa was conducted 69 seconds after the red flag.

The first extrication team arrived at the scene within two minutes of the accident occurring.

In summary, the findings of the investigation are as follows:

  • A chain of events resulted in a protracted and complex crash sequence involving four drivers, which ultimately led to a high-speed ‘T-Bone’ type impact between the cars of Juan Manuel Correa and Anthoine Hubert.
  • The dynamics of the car-to-car impact in terms of speed and trajectory were such that an extremely high level of energy was transferred and dissipated, translating into non-survivable trauma to Anthoine Hubert and very serious injuries to Juan Manuel Correa.
  • There was no single specific cause but multiple contributory factors giving rise to the severity of the accident were identified, following a detailed analysis of the various phases of the accident.
  • The investigation found no evidence that any driver failed to react appropriately in response to the yellow flag signal or to the circumstances on track.
  • The reaction of marshals and race control in deploying signaling and rescue services in relation to the accident is considered timely and good.

Safety improvement is a continuous process, therefore conclusions drawn from this accident and others like it from around the world will be integrated into the ongoing work of the FIA to further develop motor sport safety. In 2019 the FIA Safety department conducted investigations into 28 serious and fatal accidents related to circuit racing, supported by the ASN (National Sporting Authority) in each country.

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This article will be updated.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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40 comments on “FIA report on Hubert’s fatal crash clears drivers of responsibility”

  1. Reading this report reminded me of watching the “Final Destination” movies. Change any one thing in the sequence and Hubert would be with us today. Sometimes it’s just fate and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    1. @montreal95 – If you watch any of those TV documentaries that analyze air crashes, they describe this as a “cascade” – a sequence of events that all have to go wrong in a specific way to cause an accident, and avoiding just one link in that chain would have prevented it.

      It’s no different from what we experience daily – how often have we taken our eyes off the road briefly to adjust the AC/heater, or to chide a boisterous child, and gotten away lucky that something else didn’t happen in front of us at that moment? And every so once in a while, even we get caught up in an accident.

      As you – and the FIA – said, this accident at Spa sadly had a bunch of things intersecting in a specific way with a terrible outcome. I wait to see what the outcome is once the FIA have analyzed this and the other crashes, and what safety & procedural measures – if any – are recommended.

      1. @phylyp +1, absolutely. However not sure there will be many practical measures as a result of this particular case’s analysis. As I said sometimes there’s nothing you can do, but to stay home. And even then you’re not really safe…

  2. I absolutely understand that this was a most unfortunate chain of events. I also really hope that this is not all they’ve come up with.
    However, what kind of an investigation is this? Not even *discussing* how different approaches to safety might play out differently in this kind of accident. The sole purpose seems to be averting responsibility from anyone involved. Got a similiar vibe from the Bianchi report. This is not how safety culture should work. Sadly this seems to happen everywhere, safety culture being replaced by liability culture.

    1. Indeed.
      Unanswered questions like why the barrier failed to contain the car and spat it back out… Could alternative barriers prevent this…

    2. @mrboerns – I got the impression that that analysis will be done by the later work, i.e. this quote:

      conclusions drawn from this accident and others like it from around the world will be integrated into the ongoing work of the FIA to further develop motor sport safety

      Which would include analysis into alternate barrier designs (that @falken alludes to), and how they would hold up against each of those 28 accidents.

    3. Having a full idea of the incident as it happened with what was available is needed before you can start asking what you could bring in to prevent any similar future incidents from being fatal.

      Can’t really do a ‘what can we do to prevent this?’ before ‘how did this happen?’

  3. It says Hubert’s car came to rest on its left hand side. But it didn’t; it was the right way up. Makes me question the analysis.

    1. Where does it say that?

    2. @dc2019 It does say that and it’s exactly right. Correa hit Hubert’s car on the left side of its cockpit. Tristan you should first question your memory before questioning an official report from the FIA. But it’s easy now, everybody can write whatever they want on the internet and then someone will copy him without question and suddenly there’s a conspiracy!

      1. @montreal95 Ehm … you read that wrong. The mistake is not about where his car was hit.

        However, the report states “car number 19 came to rest on track on its left-hand side”. While the cockpit was actually upright.

        1. @f1osaurus Ah I see what you mean. You’re right, the proper spelling would be “came to rest with its left hand side facing the upcoming cars”. Nevertheless, it’s not a major thing, I for one understood it properly from the beginning(maybe because I re-watched the crash recording recently). and I still take issue with people that inflate a small semantics issue to “question the analysis”.

          1. @montreal95 Well in the same breath they talk about Correa’s car being inverted. So they are clearly talking about what part of the car (or what’s left of it I guess) is resting on the tarmac. They literally write that.

            I still take issue with people …

            You did exactly the same though. Even worse, you simply misread something and then made a conspiracy theory claim out of it.

            The whole statement is incredibly poorly written though. It just offers a bunch of claims that nobody did anything wrong, everything went perfect, it was a perfect phone call. Apart from the fact that one drier got killed and one seriously injured. With no underpinning evidence for any of their claims. We’re just supposed to take it at face value.

  4. Better car to car impact protection is definitely needed. Also, a rule which requires a driver who goes all 4 off to come to a complete stop before safely returning to the track will get these drivers to stop flying full throttle when off track.

    Extremely unfortunate that a deflating tire could have been the impetus for all of this.

    RIP Anthoine Hubert

    1. @megatron A complete stop at the top of Eau Rouge-Raidillon or any other high or medium-speed corner, and in this case somewhat blind corner as well. That’d bring in more safety to the game.

      1. In the end the blind nature of the corner is not really the main issue here. Sure it is difficult to slow down to avoid a car before you can see the car ahead due to the road curvature but one also needs to remember why the car was there in the first place. And it was because that car hit the wall and bounced back towards the track. Whether the corner needs better walls, more runoff between the wall and the track, different orientation of the barriers or whether it is something that will be considered too high speed of impact to be survivable and avoidable remains to be seen. Of course reshaping every corner into a slow chicane and with short straights in between would be the safest but hardly interesting. But even if the corner had been flat with good visibility chances are the impact would have happened the same way.

    2. @megatron You nailed it with your first point. But then you had to go on and ruin it with your completely unrealistic second suggestion…

      1. @montreal95
        Nothing unrealistic about it, drivers are causing problems by keeping full throttle when they go off track, it is a huge safety problem. How to force them to lift, either require them to come to a stop relatively soon after doing so, or penalize them after reviewing their throttle data. Blind corners are an issue, but unsafe reentries are a far more common and dangerous issue.

        1. @megatron There’s a rule already that requires you to rejoin in a safely manner and if not you can get a penalty up to a stop and go and even a black flag in special cases. That’s enough, all we need is proper and consistent tough policing of the rules.

          Expecting a driver to come to a full stop after going off is both unrealistic and extremely dangerous because imagine if another driver goes off at higher speed and hits the stopping driver from behind that’s what the drivers call a “plane crash”

        2. Its unrealistic because having car stop is also dangerous. That statement is a knee jerk reaction to this accident, not really a properly thought safety measure.

  5. The whole incident, as described, was an unfortunate series of events. Very thorough description of the accident, without any subtext. That being these drivers were helpless to do anything with the speed they were travelling. It seems to me that these guys all might have benefitted from more track time before bombing toward Eau Rouge nose to tail at full tilt.

  6. They need to fell some trees, build a retaining wall (much like when they redesigned the pits 12 or so years ago) and extend the run off at the top of Raidillon.

    We’ve seen far too many incidents like this in other series at the same corner. The top of Raidillon is blind, meaning cars cannot see the danger. Who pays for it is a different matter, but I’m sure the cash-strapped FiA and FOM could chip in.

  7. I didn’t see anything in this report talking about how long it took for the driver to be removed from the car. When there was talk of installing the halo, that was a questioned thing and it amazes me that there is no line saying how long it took to remove the driver from the car, only a very dirty note was posted on the FIA website. Did it take longer than what they released when they installed the halo and are now hiding the information for pilots not to question?

  8. Ok, they are experts, maybe they are right.

    Or maybe they are just spineless!

    Anyway, one driver is dead, the other cries how he was left alone, and no decision or finding can change that.

  9. No surprises, even with only 3 cameras you can see what happened. I hope this detailed statement is going to be enough to convince those who have doubts about the incident.
    People need to stop saying correa went full throttle on the run off, hence it is his fault, what he did was consistent to what anyone would do in that scenario and typically the best way to avoid danger, like the fia explains perfectly, multiple factors.
    No one to blame doesn’t mean changes can’t be made in order to improve safety. I would like to know what has the fia recommended, maybe they’ll never release that info. Clear that the tarmac run-off is counter productive and that the barrier where Hubert crashed should have been deeper and covered in high tech barriers like safer barriers and tech pro instead of rows of bouncy tyres.

  10. Odd how it doesn’t mention at all how much drivers were trying to slow down after going off track. Only Ralph Boschung slowing down is mentioned as a trigger.

    In the Bianchi crash investigation there was a whole lot of detail in how fast he was going compared to the previous lap and how he tried to slow down. With a special note of him pressing both the brake and throttle fully while Marussia’s car failed to cut the engine in a case like that (as every F1 car should). ie he tried to slow down, but the car wasn’t actually slowing down.

    1. Exactly. Not sure how is that clearing responsibility of Correa for going full throttle through the crash site. They say he hit debris, but that happened when it was already too late to avoid the collision. He went full throttle to the left long before any debris. There was enough time to full stop twice.

      1. @regs Exactly! There is no clearing at all apart from the FIA blandly stating that they “found no evidence that any driver failed to react appropriately”.

        Correa claimed he was desperately trying to slow down but coudln’t because his front wing was stuck under his front wheels (or some other debris). Frankly I think that’s not true at all. He looks to accelerate on the run-off and I don’t see anything stuck under his wheels at all. Besides he was still doing 218km/h when he had ample time to slow down. Did the telemetry show him actually trying to slow down or did he put his foot down trying to blast past a spinning car?

        Would have been nice for the FIA to at least add some details on the telemerty of how the drivers tried to actually avoid the incidents.

    2. @f1osaurus

      Yeah, my recollection,, after watching several videos, was Correa did not slow as much as is reasonable in the run off during a serious crash. This is important because reducing speed is about the best thing you can do to avoid or minimize a crash.

      The comment about Bianchi’s crash leads to the next problem. Can we really trust the FIA? Aren’t they massively conflicted here? Was there any independent participation? Like Belgium authorities?

      Did they release the telemetry from the cars? I’d like to know what Correa’s inputs were. Did he really try to slow down?

      I know I can’t trust my conclusions from watching a few videos, but I’m afraid I don’t trust the FIA either.

      1. @slotopenI think in the Bianchi case it was quite clear that it was mostly driver error. Like not slowing down enough for the situation (double waved yellow means “be ready to stop”!). Also by putting his foot hard on the throttle pedal while trying to brake, causing his car to not slow down. And then blocking his front wheels making it impossible to steer away from the tractor.

        Although personally the fact that the failsafe system to cut the engine when a driver presses both the throttle and the break didn’t work on the Marussia is something unbelievable. How is that not a mandatory safety feature is beyond me.

        If that had worked, Bianchi would have slowed down a lot (like Sutil), then he could have lifted the brake a little to regain control and avoid the tractor.

        Either way, I really don’t understand how people can blame the FIA for that incident.

      2. @f1osaurus
        yes, interesting viewpoints. in the recollection of when it was announced that Correa broke his leg, i immediately thought of his left leg & specifically ankle due to impact while pressing on the pedal. yet as we know it was his right leg & ankle which would suggest otherwise.

    3. @f1osaurus Perhaps the FIA is trying to avoid a situation like the Bianchi accident, which resulted in them having a year-long legal dispute followed by a statement being made that a “combination of adverse circumstances” was responsible. A statement which contradicted the FIA’s report, but that the FIA did not object to in any fashion. We have seen it can react quite strongly to perceived misinterpretations, so their not reacting here implies that the statement should be believed over the report. (The other clue is that none of the agreed measures regarding drivers would have done anything to prevent that specific accident – had a bad reaction to a yellow flag been truly been thought to be the case, it wouldn’t have been that difficult to state it, either in the settlement or later on in court).

      Since the FIA does not appear to believe anyone was predominantly to blame here, it would be strange if it put information in the report that indicated it thought the opposite, especially after that experience…

      This might also be a good time to add that the FIA cannot blame a driver for reacting in a manner permitted by the regulations or by common practice. Since said regulations are not always as straightforward as commonly believed, one must be quite cautious about such accusations where no unambiguous breach exists. More effective would be for the FIA to keep things cool at this point, and feed back the data into their WADB under “consider methods of increasing effectiveness of driver responses to crashes”.

      1. @alianora-la-canta I don’t get your point. The FIA clearly did state that the biggest contribution to the accident was Bianchi not slowing down enough. Both before and after going off.

        Of course the family will see it differently. They will never see the blame on one of their own. Perhaps the FIA (or the track?) putting in place a ton of safety changes might indicate to them that things could have been better on that side too. Indeed, even with his own mistakes, their son could also still have been alive if other factors had been different.

        I’m just saying, that the current findings only offer a bunch of unsubstantiated claims that no one is to blame. It’s utterly useless.

        1. @f1osaurus You do realise what I linked to was a description of settlement between the family and the FIA? Meaning that in places where contradicts the original report, the settlement overrules it?

          1. @alianora-la-canta No as I said. I don’t get your point. To be honest I doubt you actually get it. For one, there was no settlement.

  11. Any link to the actual report or any announcement on when that is going to be made public?

      1. @f1osaurus That’s not the report, that’s the summary, which is the same as in the article. There’s been no indication the full report will be made public.

        1. @keithcollantine Ah ok thanks. So that’s why it’s so devoid of any actual facts

  12. This report summary is better quality than I dared hope. I hope it gives everyone involved some sense of closure and gives the FIA some pointers on how to improve safety in the long term.

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