Chartres - Brought together by sorrow the motor sport family gathered in Chartres, north-central France on Tuesday for the funeral of Anthoine Hubert, killed in a F2 crash at the Belgian Grand Prix in late-August.
"It's hard to believe that our passion could have separated us," Hubert's girlfriend Julie told several hundred mourners at a ceremony that lasted more than three hours and was shown on a giant screen outside the town's historic French Gothic cathedral.
In turn, the driver's father, Francois, former Formula 1 driver Alain Prost, friend Amaury, girlfriend Julie and long-time sponsor Olivier Lamirault paid tribute to the 22-year-old they call "my big man", "Tonio", "my Nini" or "my kid".
"Anthoine, your smile, your positive energy, that's the image we all have of you," said Prost, representing Hubert's team Renault Sport Racing.
The four-time F1 world champion recalled "the kindness, curiosity, intelligence, professionalism and gentleness" of the young man and said Hubert's "discernment and the quest for perfection would have propelled towards a bright future."
In front of a black and white portrait of the young man proudly waving a French flag, Julie said: "If you only knew how much I hate this sport, this passion that brought us together but took your life. I had forgotten how dangerous it was, I think."
Hubert had won two F2 races this season, in Monaco and at The French Grand Prix.
"You were often underestimated," said Lamirault. "But this year, you were showing them all who you really were: a real 'racer'."
Among those in attendance were current F1 drivers Monegasque Charles Leclerc and Frenchmen Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. The trio were his friends and rivals since their karting days.
Giuliano Alesi, who was also involved in the three-car crash, attended with his father Jean, a former driver.
The other driver in the crash, 20-year-old the American Juan Manuel Correa, is "in a critical but stable condition," his family said on Saturday.
Another contemporary, Mick Schumacher, son of former world champion Michael, also attended on Tuesday.
Hubert's friend Amaury remembered Hubert's "determination" and "rage to win" even when competing during a dinner to see who could eat the most spring rolls.
His fellow drivers placed helmets Hubert wore during his young career at the altar.
Motorsports' leadership was well represented at the service with Jean Todt, President of the International Automobile Federation, F1 directors Ross Brawn, Chase Carey, Sean Bratches and Ross Brawn as well as team executives Mattia Binotto of Ferrari, Cyril Abiteboul of Renault and Fred Vasseur of Alfa Romeo Racing all present.