Henry Surtees died on Sunday at Brands Hatch when the 18-year old Formula Two driver was struck by an errant wheel following the crash of a rival. Today it was confirmed that the British racer sustained fatal injuries at the time of the accident when the rear wheel hit his crash helmet
as he travelled at an estimated 120mph. MotorSport Vision CEO and Formula Two organiser Jonathan Palmer has promised a full investigation.
“This is the saddest time in my 35 years of motor racing,” Palmer said in a statement. “Henry was removed from the car, stabilised and taken to the medical centre, where he was prepared to be air-lifted to the Royal London Hospital, the regional trauma centre. After evaluation and investigations in the intensive care unit, Henry was found to have suffered a major head injury that was not survivable.
“There will of course be a detailed investigation into the accident that claimed Henry’s life and we will do everything possible to understand exactly what happened and why, and see what can be learnt from this freak accident in the continual quest to make motor racing safer.”
Palmer explained how the Williams designed F2 chassis’ comply with the FIA 2005 F1 safety standards including the fitment of wheel tethers to reduce the risk of wheels coming off in accidents but also pointed out that such tethers can fail.
“As with F1 however, wheel tethers cannot provide an absolute guarantee that a wheel will not come off in an accident and in a single seater race car the front of the head is inevitably exposed to the risk, however small, of being hit by another car or component,” the statement added.
Surtees had graduated to the inaugural F2 championship this year after competing in the British Formula Renault championship in 2008, finishing second in the winter series. With racing in his blood Henry had been following his dream and looking to follow in the footsteps of father John who won the championship with Ferrari in 1964.
“Not only was Henry immensely talented but he was also a very popular member of the whole Formula Two team, making many friends amongst both the other drivers and the team members, earning enormous respect everywhere," Palmer concluded.