Justin Wilson dies at age 37


Justin Wilson, of Sheffield, England, has died at age 37 following injuries sustained in an accident Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

Mark Miles, the head of INDYCAR’s parent company, Hulman &. Co., announced the news in a Monday night press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wilson had been in a coma since Sunday night.

“On behalf of the Wilson family, it’s with profound sadness that we announce that Justin has died this evening at Lehigh Valley Health Network Hospital in Allentown, Pa., as a result of the head injury he suffered yesterday at the Pocono Raceway,” Miles said.

“He passed away in the company of his family, his brother, Stefan,  his loving wife, wonderful wife Julia and his parents Keith and Lynne.

“Justin’s elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness and character and humility, which made him one of the most respected members of the paddock. As we know, the racing  industry is one big family and our focus now is rallying around Justin’s family to ensure they get the support they need during this difficult time.

“Anyone who follows our sport knows Justin Wilson is one of the most respected, highly regarded and loved people in the entire paddock. He will be missed.”

A statement from the Wilson family reads as follows:

With deep sadness, the parents of Justin Wilson, Keith and Lynne, his wife Julia, and his brother Stefan share the news that Justin passed away today after succumbing to injuries suffered during the Verizon IndyCar event at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, August 23.

Justin was a loving father and devoted husband, as well as a highly competitive racing driver who was respected by his peers.

The family would like to thank the staff at the Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital, Pocono Raceway, Andretti Autosport, and the Verizon IndyCar Series as well as the entire racing community for the amazing outpouring of support from fans around the world.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Wilson Children’s Fund care of INDYCAR.

Wilson Children’s Fund
4551 West 16th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46222

Andretti Autosport has also released the following statement:

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.

Godspeed, JW.

A statement from an NBC Sports spokesperson reads, “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Justin Wilson, and offer our most sincere condolences to his family and his teammates at Andretti Autosport.”

Wilson was a fixture on the racing circuit for many years.

In 173 starts in Champ Car and the Verizon IndyCar Series from 2004 through 2015, Wilson won seven races and also finished second in the Champ Car championship twice.

The year before that, in 2003, Wilson raced in Formula One with the Minardi and Jaguar teams, scoring a single World Championship point with eighth place for Jaguar at the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.

Wilson made it into F1 by way of selling shares to investors, who would then invest in Wilson’s career.

Once he arrived in North America, Wilson instantly endeared himself to the paddock, known as a gentle giant at 6-foot-4. He was an excellent driver too, with the paddock always regarding his skills as being far better than the equipment he raced in. He delivered Dale Coyne his first two wins in the IndyCar Series, with wins at Watkins Glen in 2009 and Texas Motor Speedway in 2012. The Texas win was Wilson’s seventh of his career, first on an oval, and tragically, now, the last of his career.

Wilson had signed with Andretti Autosport for selected races in 2015, the month of May, which then expanded to the final five races of the season starting at Milwaukee in July.

He finished second at Mid-Ohio to former teammate Graham Rahal, which was his 27th and final podium finish in North American open-wheel racing.

On Sunday at Pocono, Wilson was struck in the head by an errant nosecone, which came loose from Sage Karam’s car after Karam contacted the Turn 1 wall. Wilson’s car then careened into the inside retaining wall.

Wilson is survived by his wife Julia and their two daughters.

Mercedes: F1 teams need to work together to avoid split

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that Formula One teams have a responsibility to try to overcome their differences over the future of the sport in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit because of a number of proposed changes.

Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years before being replaced by new owners Liberty Media last year, has raised the possibility that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne could walk away from F1 and form a breakaway series over Liberty’s future vision for the sport.

Ferrari is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among F1 teams after the current contract with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would not comment on the specifics of Marchionne’s previous comments at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, but said: “My only suggestion, please take him seriously.”

Wolff is also taking the possibility of Ferrari walking away seriously. He told Britain’s Press Association before the Australian GP that he agreed with Marchionne’s concerns and that Formula One can’t afford to alienate Ferrari or lose the team.

“Don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.”

Wolff was more diplomatic on Friday, saying he hopes all sides could come together for the good of the sport.

“I think this as much a battle on track as much as it is a fight off track for an advantage,” he said. “It is clear the current governance and how the rules are being made is not very functional. There’s too much different opinions and agendas on the table and we need to sort it for 2021 for the best interest of the sport.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed there are too many competing agendas, suggesting that the FIA-Formula One’s governing body-and Liberty Media come together to decide on a set of regulations and financial framework for the next contract and the teams can then decide if they want to accept it or not.

“Trying to get a consensus between teams that have varying objectives, different set-ups, is going to be impossible,” he said. “It’s history repeating itself. It happens every five or six years, every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.”

Tempers also flared during Friday’s media conference over another issue of contention between the teams – Ferrari’s recent hiring of FIA’s ex-safety director, Laurent Mekies.

Horner believes Ferrari broke an agreement among teams at a recent meeting to institute a 12-month waiting period for any former employee of FIA or FOM (Formula One Management) to be able to start working for one of F1’s teams. The concern is that former FIA staff who go to work for a specific team could share secrets from other teams.

“Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years, but in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months,” he said. “It almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.”

Arrivabene defended Ferrari’s move, saying Mekies would not join its team until after a six-month “gardening leave” period.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” he said.