Henry Surtees dies after F2 crash

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

I’ve just heard the terrible news that Henry Surtees, son of former F1 champion John Surtees, died today following a crash in a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch. He was 18 years old.

The accident happened in the second of the day’s F2 races. Surtees’ crash helmet struck a wheel which had been lost by another car, which is believed to have knocked him unconscious. His car ran straight on at the next bend, Sheene Corner, and into the barriers.

Formula 2 was re-formed this season having been wound up at the end of 1984. The Brands Hatch rounds were the fifth and sixth races in this year’s championship.

The single-specification cars are built by Williams and the championship is run by ex-F1 racer Jonathan Palmer, who also owns Brands Hatch. Palmer’s son Jolyon races in the championship, as well as Martin Brundle’s son Alex.

My thoughts are with Henry’s family at this terrible time.

55 comments on “Henry Surtees dies after F2 crash”

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  1. This is really awful. I just saw it on youtube, hard to believe the tyre could do so much damage through the helmet.

    1. The tyre didn’t do damage “through” the helmet. When hitting his helmet, the tyre pressed his head down with a brutal force – and this must’ve crushed his neck. The head could’ve been not even injured.

      A very tragic accident, so unlucky.

      1. He died from severe trauma to the head though.

  2. James Brickles
    19th July 2009, 22:31

    That is really tragic. All my condolences are with the Surtees family.

    Rest in peace Henry :(

  3. I watched the race live this morning and feared the worst from the moment the accident happened. The cars are fitted with tire tethers. Although the chassis are very safe these days and fires very rare there still exists the possibility of debris strikes in open cockpits. I recently read that Vettel once had a finger almost completely severed in such an incident. My condolences to the family.

  4. Luckely it doesn’t happen so often anymore.
    But very sad, bit of a freak accident :(

  5. StrFerrari4Ever
    19th July 2009, 22:44

    This is truly sad for motorsport a great young prospect dying due to a tyre hitting him in the head. When I heard about this they said he was unconscious then I saw rumours that he was dead and indeed he was truly sad day and safety of the drivers has to be improved even in the junior series.

    R.I.P Henry Surtees

  6. Just terrible. My deepest condolences to Henry’s family.

  7. A freak accident and a horrible tragedy… RIP

  8. My heartfelt sympathies to John and his family.

  9. Tragic. Having seen the accident it was so incredibly unlucky for Surtees, a couple of inches either way and it might not have been so bad.

    With F2 a new series it is tragic for them too, to suffer such a dreadful loss so early on.

    Unfortunately the risks of single-seater racing will never be completely eliminated, but it’s merciful that incidents like this are so rare these days.

  10. Terrible incident :(

  11. am surprised the tethers didnt work. although there are examples in recent f1- sutil’s wheel in China (2009) flew off in a crash and hit heidfeld’s car. coulthard monaco qualy (2008) and a few more.
    my thoughts are with his family, RIP.

    1. Dreadful news, my condolences to his family and friends.
      The F2 cars are designed with safety as a paramount concern, there is always this risk with open cockpit cars.
      Horrible blow to his family and friends, and also to F2 in it’s debut year. A real shame.

  12. Bartholomew
    20th July 2009, 0:04

    R.I.P. Henry What a terrible tragedy for John and the family. Surtees is a glorious name to have been continued in the racing world.
    I guess this can happen anytime, really.
    Our thoughts and our prayers with the family

  13. RIP Henry

    It was devastating for the whole motor-sport world. Safety should be of utmost importance for the sport. Hopefully improvements can be made soon.

  14. I just had a look on Youtube. That was the most unlucky and unfortuate incident. At that speed it didn’t even look like the tyre hit with any force, or even at all. So incredibly sad.

    rest in peace Henry.

  15. Aaron Shearer
    20th July 2009, 1:15

    My sincere condolences to the Surtees family.

    Such a tragic loss of life at such a young age. May you rest in peace Henry! :(

  16. This is terrible. The worst luck in the world…


  17. It is a sad day for motorsport, and it shows that motosport can still be dangerous. It was a very unfortunate incident.

    My condolences to the Surtees family.

  18. It is truly sad to hear this news. Even so we all know the risks involved in racing, it’s always tragic when something like this happens.

    My condolences to the family and friends of Henry.

  19. Mark Hitchcock
    20th July 2009, 4:32

    That’s terrible :(
    Any death in motorsport these days is a shock, especially when it’s someone so young.

    Sincere condolences to the Surtees family.


  20. I have just heard the news and viewed the footage, what a horrible freakish accident, 100% freakish. I was quite surprised, as at first it appears the tyre will roll harmlessly without incident. It seems to pick up a bit of speed before Surtees arrives on the scene, before bouncing, fatally at the wrong moment.
    I bet all the other drivers must be feeling this loss too. I could so easily have been them, but turned out to be this poor lad. My deepest sympathy to John Surtees and to their friends, this is a terrible blow to open wheel racing, and is something we have sadly seen all too often in the past.
    I hope this will not affect Brands Hatch too much, as in my opinion the circumstances could have occured anywhere. Its just that the tethers failed to do their job, and thats that.
    RIP Henry……………

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