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'Surreal' return to the F2 podium on Hubert's anniversary

Juan Manuel Correa secured an emotional return to the Formula 2 podium on Sunday, 24 hours after missing out on a top-three finish on account of a post-race penalty and five years since his last official top-three appearance.

That opportunity got here throughout the F2 sprint race throughout the 2019 French Grand Prix weekend, a race that famously saw Anthoine Hubert wow the crowds by taking his second victory in as many events, following his earlier sprint victory in Monaco.

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At the time, Correa and Hubert had a greater bond than another driving pair, but that every one modified on August 31 this yr when each drivers were involved in a horrific multi-car collision at Spa Francorchamps on their knees. two from Saturday's feature race.

Just 90 minutes later, Hubert was pronounced dead.

It was Charouz Correi who dealt the ultimate blow to Arden's automobile when the Ecuadorian-American arrived on the scene unnoticed and had no time to react or another option.

Correa suffered serious leg and spine injuries and was placed in a medically induced coma following acute respiratory failure. He remained in a coma for 13 days before he was woke up on September 20, and a number of days later surgery began to start repairing his legs. In January 2020, he revealed that he “almost died four days after the incident.”

His return to racing has been remarkable – he tested an F2 automobile again in 2021 after which accomplished two full F3 campaigns. Van Amersfoort Racing secured a full-time F2 drive for 2023 before moving to DAMS for 2024, and has now managed to return to the rostrum, having only managed second place within the French sprint race in 2019, a greater result than the third place result he secured on Sunday.

Juan Manuel Correa, Dams

Juan Manuel Correa, Dams

Photo: Dutch Photo Agency

Asked by Motorsport.com if he was aware of the anniversary, Correa became thoughtful and said: “I used to be aware of it. It was a very good day five years ago.

“It's a little bit surreal for me to be here and I'm just grateful that I still have a probability to compete at this level and get back on the rostrum. It's an awesome feeling

“I take into consideration him on a regular basis after I play this sport and I hope he’s smiling there.

“It's a good coincidence that it fell on that day and I did the race I did, so that's a good touch and thanks for mentioning it.”

Correa had actually been on the rostrum in Spain all weekend, ending third within the sprint race before a post-race track restriction penalty dropped him to eighth.

Using an alternate strategy and starting on hard tires, Sunday's race was a test of patience before launching a late charge for revenge.

“I knew it would be difficult,” Correa said. “Every lap I checked out the gaps on the large screen and knew I used to be a little bit too far. I also knew that the soft tires at first of the race don't last very long and you might have to take care of them.

“I didn't really have any burnouts after coming out of the pit lane because I knew I needed to do 10 laps on them.

“My major goal was to make quick passes. I didn't wish to fall behind the opposite guys. Some of the moves were a bit borderline so I needed to take a risk due to grip I had, so I feel I handled it well.

“At one point I believed I could start the race after Franco (Colapinto), but with one lap to go the tires overheated and I spotted it was higher to secure my P3 than to offer the whole lot to get him after which run out them tires.

“Until the last lap it gave the look of we were on top of things, but there wouldn't be enough time for that.

“I had a really bad start and lost seven seconds. If that hadn't happened, history would have been different and I may need been in a special situation.

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