Juan Manuel Correa has been announced today as returning to the Sauber ranks as a member of the team’s Sauber Academy for the 2021 season. The American, who has encountered such tragedy and hardship in his life from motorsport, has now seen his hard work pay off and all the while makes clear that in all he does he will always be ‘Racing for Anthoine’.
Juan Manuel Correa - or JMC as he is affectionately referred to by his adoring fanbase - hit the headlines during Round 1 (Race 2) of the 2021 Formula 3 season in Barcelona. His moment came following a bizarre sequence of events which first saw David Schumacher and Enzo Fittipaldi, clash fighting for the lead and then Matteo Nannini and Dennis Hauger repeated the trick moments later. Having stayed out of trouble, Correa crossed the line in P10 and with it came a solitary - yet priceless - Drivers’ Championship point. Upon achieving this feat, the popular American stated:
“It is a great feeling, My pace and my tyre management definitely improved on the back of Race 1, and physically I was able to pace myself a little bit better and get to the end. I was not expecting (to score points) in this race, starting from 15th, but I kept a cool head and stayed out of trouble because there were a few incidents, but I’ve scored my first points now, so the team and I are happy.”
Juan Manuel Correa has encountered heartbreak, shown resilience, kept motivated and persevered through so much after the events of the F2 Sprint Race at Spa-Francorchamps in 2019. Following this tragedy, which resulted in Anthoine Hubert losing his life and Juan Manuel Correa being severely injured many wondered whether JMC would walk again - let alone drive. Therefore, this outcome last month in Spain – points in the first race weekend of his return – was already the product of fairytales.
Now just over a month later, the news has been released on Formula2.com that Juan Manuel Correa has joined the Sauber Academy for the 2021 season. Juan Manuel Correa’s previous ties with Sauber came from the fact that he was originally Alfa Romeo’s development driver in 2019 and also reached the pinnacle having completed 62 laps around Le Castellet in the team’s Formula 1 car - the circuit which F3 races at this coming weekend.
“It’s very special to be back with the Sauber Academy,” said Correa. “They’re the junior programme of the team I was with in 2019, when I had my first and only F1 test, and it’s a great feeling to be working with them again.
“I am very excited to show the Academy’s branding on my car and my helmet already from this weekend in France and I am looking forward to helping the team whenever needed, be it in the sim or elsewhere.
“I am very grateful to ART and Sébastien Philippe, and of course to Fred Vasseur, for all the support he has given me, and to everyone else at Sauber, from Beat Zehnder to all those who have been absolutely amazing and so supportive since my accident and throughout my recovery. It’s an honour to be back with this team.”
The Sauber Academy was unveiled to the world in 2020 and has clear ties to the F1 team in that it is overseen by Alfa Romeo Racing Team Principal Frederic Vasseur and Sporting Director Beat Zehnder.
Beat Zender commented: “Juan Manuel always displayed skill and determination, but his remarkable comeback from injury is an inspiring story that shows all his strength and will power…We have nothing but sheer admiration for his tenacity and we are happy to help him, through the Sauber Academy programme, as he resumes his motorsport career.”
The Sauber Academy already has a strong pedigree having seen one of their recruits - Théo Pourchaire whilst racing for ART Grand Prix – claim runner up in the 2020 F3 Championship, which in turn helped him pave his way to F2.
Juan Manuel Correa clearly recognises the honour that comes from being in the Sauber Academy and how it represents his hard work. However, it is also not an opportunity he will experience alone.
Upon returning to the world of racing in 2021 with ART Grand Prix in Formula 3, Juan Manuel Correa revealed his helmet for the season, with a tribute to Anthoine Hubert as part of the design:
"Obviously this helmet is very special for me, as it's the helmet I'm going to do my comeback with. And to commemorate Anthoine, as he will always be racing with me. This year will be no exception, I have his logo on the top and the rear. The rest is my design as always. I think it looks nice!"
Whatever classification the Juan Manuel Correa is racing in, the American ensures that Anthoine Hubert’s legacy lives on. Following today’s news, maybe the dream they both had – to race in F1 – has edged that little bit closer.
Staying in the world of Sauber, one of the team’s greatest ever drivers – Kimi Räikkönen – spoke exclusively to motorlat.com Editor James O’Connor. See what The Iceman had to say in the first part of this revealing interview: