Henry Surtees: Dead at 18 after Brands Hatch Accident

James BroomheadAnalyst IJuly 19, 2009

It is with great sadness that I write this, informing you of the death of Henry Surtees, 18, after an accident in a Formula Two race at the Brands Hatch circuit in England.

Surtees, who is the son of former world champion John Surtees, was struck by a tire from another competitor who had crashed ahead of him. It is believed he was immediately rendered unconscious, with his car still at speed, hitting the barrier at the following corner head on.

TV pictures showed no reaction from Surtees as his car came to a halt, and witnesses on scene reported that the car's engine was still revving, even when the car had stopped moving.

The race was red flagged after the accident, with Surtees being taken to the circuit's medical centre, where he was stabilised before being taken by helicopter to the trauma centre at the Royal London Hospital.

The accident occurred on the tenth lap of the second Formula Two race of the weekend, Surtees having claimed a home podium in the first race, when driver Jack Clarke crashed heavily exiting Westfield Bend on the Grand Prix circuit at the Kent venue.

The impact, with a barrier angled towards the track in order to skirt the woodland in which the track is set, led to one of the tires from Clarke's car bouncing across the track, clearly striking Surtees in the head as he passed the accident, before his car hit the barrier on the outside of the following Sheene Curve.

Even before the worst possible news was confirmed, questions were being asked of both the cars and the track with an investigation thought to be in preparation, a decision surely cemented with the current news.

It was quickly pointed out the this is the second time that an errant tire has been a major hazard, another time (rather chillingly) involving Clarke and Surtees at an earlier event.

Even in this incident the left rear wheel of Surtees' car broke free, perhaps suggesting a serious problem with the design of the cars, which comes from the Williams Formula One team.

Formula Two is in it's inaugural season, with the aim to be a feeder series to Formula One. It is run by Motorsport Vision, the same company that owns and operates Brands Hatch.

It is currently unknown how this accident will affect the remainder of this season or the long term future of the series.

Henry Surtees 1991-2009.