That is because F2 driver Anthoine Hubert was killed in competition at the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday. Hubert, driving for the BWT Arden team, struck the wall atop Spa’s formidable Eau Rouge-Raidillon complex and rebounded into the path of Juan Manuel Correa, who hit Hubert at speed.
Both drivers were taken to the circuit’s medical center, where Hubert died of his injuries.
The news cast a pall over today’s Formula 1 race, won by Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc, and similarly dominates discussion within the F1 gaming community. Players on the F1 subreddit posted tribute screens of their laps in a BWT Arden F2 car at Monaco and Le Castellet, where Hubert claimed victories in his rookie season.
Others suggested changing the colors of their multiplayer cars to match Hubert’s pink livery with BWT Arden. With this weekend’s multiplayer event at Spa-Francorchamps (wrapping up today), a field of pink cars would be a very poignant tribute.
FIA canceled today’s F2 sprint race (a second race where the top eight finishers are inverted on the starting grid) out of respect for Hubert and his family. A delicate question now faces Codemasters, which no doubt had modeled Hubert for appearance in the game once the F2 update launches.
Would it be insensitive, or even feasible at this point, to replace him (and Arden hasn’t named Hubert’s replacement yet). Or would it be insensitive to leave him in as a tribute, racing in a video game after his death? If any tribute is made, how would that be called out?
I posed those questions in an email to a Codemasters representative, but being the Labor Day weekend we may not hear back soon.
Codemasters on Thursday previewed the F2 2019 update but didn’t say specifically when it would be added to the game. This is the first year Formula 2, the series just beneath F1, has been featured in the video game, but so far it uses the 2018 teams, drivers, and even tire compounds.
Three F2 drivers from 2018 start in F1 this year: McLaren’s Lando Norris; Alexander Albon, recently promoted to Aston Martin Red Bull; and 2018 drivers’ champion George Russell, for Williams. They show up in both series in the game. Additionally, F1 2019’s career mode begins in F2, where the player’s created driver is joined by two fictitious F2 rivals for the top series’ 2019 season.