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Henry Surtees
Henry Surtees (Parc Ferme).JPG
Surtees in 2008
Born(1991-02-18)18 February 1991
Lingfield, Surrey, England
Died19 July 2009(2009-07-19) (aged 18)
Whitechapel, London, England
FIA Formula Two Championship
Years active2009
TeamsMotorSport Vision
Car number8
Fastest laps0
Best finish14th in 2009
Previous series
British F3
Formula Renault WEC
Formula Renault UK
FRUK Winter Series
Formula BMW ADAC
Formula BMW UK
Ginetta GT Juniors

Henry John Surtees (18 February 1991 – 19 July 2009) was a British racing driver and the son of John Surtees.

He was educated at Worth, an independent school in West Sussex.


Formula BMW UK

Henry Surtees finished his debut season in the championship 7th in the overall points standings, and second in the Rookie Cup. During a season in which the second half was dominated by fellow rookie Marcus Ericsson, Surtees claimed one pole position ( Thruxton), one race win (Donington Park) and two fastest laps (Rockingham and Snetterton) while driving for the very successful Carlin Motorsport team. The season was marred by penalties and a disqualification at Oulton Park.

Formula Renault

Surtees racing at Snetterton in 2008
Surtees racing at Snetterton in 2008

After two races in 2007, Surtees moved up full-time to the Formula Renault UK series in 2008 with Manor Competition. Surtees would go on to finish 12th in the championship, including a third-place finish during a wild race at Silverstone's National Circuit.[1] He also competed in the Winter Series again, having finished 13th in 2007. He battled James Calado for the title, with Calado coming out on top.

Formula Three

Surtees competed in one race meeting during the 2008 season, in the final two races at Donington Park for Carlin Motorsport. Surtees revelled with a win and a second in his two races in the National Class.[2]

Formula Two

Surtees signed up to the revived FIA Formula Two Championship ahead of the 2009 season on 2 January 2009. He drove car number seven in the series.[3] He scored a podium in the first of the two races at Brands Hatch, coming third, and achieved a pole position at Brno. Surtees' results placed him fourteenth in the championship, at the end of the season.


Surtees at Brands Hatch the day before his fatal accident.
Surtees at Brands Hatch the day before his fatal accident.

At Brands Hatch on 19 July 2009, during a Formula Two race, Surtees was hit on the head by a wheel from the car of Jack Clarke after Clarke spun into the wall exiting Westfield Bend. The wheel broke its tether and bounced back across the track into the following group of cars and collided with Surtees's helmet.[4][5] The mass of the wheel assembly hitting his head was 29 kilograms (64 lb), and given the speed of his car (approximately 100 mph) at the time the wheel struck, the impact yielded approximately 30,000 joules of kinetic energy.[6] The car continued straight ahead into the barrier on the approach to Sheene Curve, also losing a wheel, and came to rest at the end of the curve with its remaining rear wheel still spinning. This indicated that Surtees had lost consciousness, with his foot still pressing the accelerator.

Surtees was extricated from the car and taken to the circuit's medical centre, where he was stabilized before being transferred to the Royal London Hospital. He was pronounced brain dead later that day.[7] Surtees's death was attributed to severe head injuries, inflicted by colliding with Clarke's wheel, rather than the subsequent crash with the barriers.[8] His parents elected to donate his organs for transplant, a decision which was credited with saving five lives.[9] Surtees' funeral took place on 30 July at Worth Abbey, near Turners Hill, West Sussex.[10]

Surtees was buried at St. Peter and St. Paul's Church in Lingfield, Surrey; in 2017, his father John was buried next to him.


In June 2010, a group of Surtees's school friends swam the English Channel in stints to raise money for charity in his memory.

Additional wheel tethers

Surtees' death along with an increasing number of accidents where wheels were torn off their mountings lead to the number of wheel tethers being doubled to two per wheel for the 2011 Formula One World Championship season.[11]

Halo cockpit protection

The FIA introduced a mandatory titanium-carbon fibre[12][13] "halo" cockpit protection structure for the 2018 Formula One and Formula 2 championships. Surtees's fatal impact was one of many simulated with the halo device, and the FIA concluded that Surtees's outcome likely would have been improved by the presence of a halo.[14] The utility of the halo, controversial when introduced, was borne out in the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix, when a wheel from the spinning and airborne car of Fernando Alonso solidly struck the halo structure of Charles Leclerc's car. The halo was credited with potentially preventing a serious injury to Leclerc, if not outright saving his life.[15][16]

Henry Surtees Award

In 2010, the Henry Surtees Award was launched, to be awarded annually for the most outstanding performance by a rising motor racer. Its first winner was Formula Renault UK champion Tom Blomqvist.

Henry Surtees Foundation

Also in 2010,[17] the Henry Surtees Foundation was founded as a charitable organisation by his father John, to assist victims of accidental brain injuries and to promote safety in driving and motorsport.[9][18]

Racing record

Career summary

Season Series Team Races Wins Poles F/Laps Podiums Points Position
2006 Ginetta GT Junior Championship 12 3 0 3 6 236 3rd
2007 Formula BMW ADAC ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg 2 0 0 0 0 24 29th
Formula BMW UK Carlin Motorsport 18 1 1 2 8 491 6th
Formula Renault 2.0 UK 2 0 0 0 0 13 22nd
Formula Renault 2.0 UK Winter Series 4 0 0 0 0 35 13th
2008 British F3 National Class 2 1 0 0 2 35 11th
Formula Renault 2.0 West European Cup Manor Competition 2 0 0 0 0 0 NC†
Formula Renault 2.0 UK 20 0 0 0 1 203 12th
Formula Renault 2.0 UK Winter Series 4 1 1 0 3 113 2nd
2009 FIA Formula Two Championship MotorSport Vision 8* 0 1 0 1 8 14th

† As Surtees was a guest driver, he was ineligible to score points.

* Surtees died during round eight of the sixteen round series

Complete FIA Formula Two Championship results

(key) (races in bold indicate pole position) (races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 DC Points
2009 VAL








14th 8


  1. ^ "Silverstone (Ntnl), 30/31 Aug 2008". Racing Steps Foundation. 31 August 2008. Archived from the original on 15 March 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  2. ^ "Carlin rookies shine at Donington". 14 October 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  3. ^ "Surtees name returns to Formula Two". FIA Formula Two Championship. 2 January 2009. Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2009.
  4. ^ Cary, Tom (20 July 2009). "Henry Surtees's death shakes motorsport world". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
  5. ^ "F2 bosses to probe Surtees tragedy". Kent and Sussex Courier. 22 July 2009. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
  6. ^ English, Steven; Glendenning, Mark (31 December 2009). "Loved and lost: Henry Surtees 1991-2009; Tribute by John Surtees". Autosport. Vol. 198 no. 13. pp. 42–43. People talked about Felipe Massa's accident in Hungary the following week. He had 0.8 kg hit him, Henry had 29 kg.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Surtees's son killed in race crash". BBC News. 20 July 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
  8. ^ Noble, Jonathan (19 July 2009). "Henry Surtees dies after F2 crash". Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
  9. ^ a b "Obituary: John Surtees". Sunday Times Driving. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Funeral for racing driver Surtees". BBC News. BBC. 30 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  11. ^ Gent, James (28 July 2010). "Extra wheel tether to be added for 2011". Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  12. ^ "All you need to know about Halo". Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  13. ^ Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (7 February 2018), F1 Explained: The Halo, retrieved 7 March 2018
  14. ^ Cooper, Adam. "Six key myths about F1's halo cockpit protection device busted". Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Incredible pictures capture the moment halo device saves Formula One driver's life". NewsComAu. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  16. ^ MarketScreener. "Renault : Much-maligned halo may have saved Leclerc's life after horror crash with Alonso | MarketScreener". Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  17. ^ "HENRY SURTEES FOUNDATION - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Henry Surtees Foundation". Retrieved 28 August 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 2 May 2021, at 20:37
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