Sheffield-born IndyCar driver Justin Wilson has died as a result of the injuries he suffered in an accident during a race on Sunday, the IndyCar Series has announced.
The 37-year-old former Formula One driver, who was competing for Andretti Autosport, suffered a head injury when Sage Karam’s car crashed in front of him during a race at the Pocono Raceway.
He was in a coma after being airlifted to hospital, but at a press conference on Monday evening, IndyCar Series officials announced Wilson had passed away.
Mark Miles, CEO of IndyCar’s parent company Hulman & Co, said in a statement: “This is a monumentally sad day for IndyCar and the motorsports community as a whole.
“Justin’s elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility – which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock.
“As we know, the racing industry is one big family, and our efforts moving forward will be focused on rallying around Justin’s family to ensure they get the support they need during this unbelievably difficult time.”
Wilson was struck by debris from Karam’s crash, which occurred on lap 180 of the 200-lap ABC Supply 500 race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania.
Wilson is survived by his wife Julia and his two daughters. His brother Stefan also competes in the IndyCar series.
Wilson was a former F1 driver, having competed for Minardi and Jaguar during the 2003 season.
He later moved to the United States, competing in Champ Car from 2004 to 2007 and later IndyCar, competing in 174 races and recording seven wins, the latest of which came in 2012 at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Wilson’s death comes almost four years after British driver Dan Wheldon was killed at the Las Vegas Speedway in the same series.
Wilson’s younger brother Stefan, 25, tweeted: “Can’t even begin to describe the loss I feel right now. He was my Brother, my best friend, my role model and mentor. He was a champion!
“He never stopped giving & caring for others. Even at this time. He had pre-chosen to donate his organs to help others in need. #myherojw”
In a statement, the Andretti Autosport team said: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Justin Wilson. He was a tremendous racer, a valuable member of the team and respected representative to our sport. While Justin was only part of the Andretti lineup for a short time, it only took a second for him to forever become part of the Andretti family.
“His life and racing career is a story of class and passion surpassed by none. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Wilson family and fans worldwide.
Karam was one of several IndyCar drivers to respond to the news on Twitter, writing: “I can’t find the proper words to describe the pain and sympathy I feel for Justin and his family. #RIPJustin”
Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montaya wrote: “Tough day in motorsport today as we loose another great person and driver. RIP Justin. You will be miss. Thoughts and prayers for his family”.