Henry Surtees, the son of Formula 1 World Champion John Surtees, died on July 19 following an accident in a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch. On the previous day the 18-year-old had scored his first ever F2 podium.
Surtees began racing karts when he was eight years old, winning the Junior Gearbox championship in 2005 before moving to car racing in the Ginetta Junior series. He graduated to single-seaters in 2007, racing for Carlin Motorsport in the Formula BMW UK championship, winning from his sixth start, at Thruxton, and finishing runner-up in the Rookie Cup. At the end of the year he joined the Formula Renault UK championship for the final two races and the winter series.
Staying with Formula Renault in 2008, Henry was runner-up in the winter series, taking a victory and three podium places from four races. At the end of the year he impressed Carlin with his immediate speed in a National Class Formula 3 car at Donington, scoring a win and a podium in his first F3 outing.
Henry chose the new FIA F2 Championship as the next step in his promising career, setting the fastest time, just over a second clear of the field, in pre-season testing at Silverstone. By the second round, at Brno in June, he had taken his first pole position and at Brands Hatch last month he finished third for that first podium.
Earlier in July Henry had driven his father’s Surtees TS10 F2 car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, remarking afterwards that the experience had given him new respect for what drivers of previous generations had achieved. Despite the famous name, however, Henry was his own man, forging his own career in a new generation.
Despite his youth and inexperience Henry brought intelligence and thoughtfulness to his racing, something of which his father – who nurtured and supported Henry throughout – was very proud.
We can only send our deepest and most sincere sympathies to this close-knit family, to John, his wife Jane and Henry’s sisters Edwina and Leonora. He was a charming young man who will be greatly missed.