An emotional Pierre Gasly said he implored Charles Leclerc to win the Belgian Grand Prix in tribute to their childhood friend Anthoine Hubert, who died in Saturday's Formula 2 race at Spa-Francorchamps.
The trio and Esteban Ocon all grew up racing each other on France's junior karting scene, and Hubert had been tipped to fellow his contemporaries into F1 in the coming years, after winning last year's GP3 championship.
Leclerc won from pole in Spa, taking his maiden race victory in F1 and immediately dedicated his triumph Hubert, something Gasly was delighted to see.
"I told Charles before the race please win this race for Anthoine. We started racing in the same year, Charles, Anthoine and myself," Gasly told reporters post-race.
"We raced together for so many years and we all knew each other. Between Jules [Bianchi] a couple of years ago, now Anthoine, I think it's really terrible news for French motorsport. They were two great, amazing characters. It's just really difficult to realise."
Gasly said he was still coming to terms with the loss of a close friend so young.
He added: "I think it was for sure the most emotional pre-race I ever had because at 22 years old, 23 years old to live this kind of moments…
"You lose one of your best mates, I've grown up with these guys since I was seven in karting, we've been room-mates, we've lived in the same apartment, in the same room, for six years.
"I'm still shocked. I've already planned to see all our friends we had in common with Anthoine tomorrow as none of us really understand and realise what has happened yesterday."
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