Button and Hamilton call Wheldon a true fighter and an inspirational figure after he was killed in Indy 300 race
Formula One stars Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button led the tributes to Dan Wheldon after their fellow Englishman was killed in Sunday's Las Vegas Indy 300 race.
Tragedy: Dan Wheldon's car (below) is well off the ground after hitting another car which was in front during the Las Vegas Indy 300 race on Sunday. Pic/AFP
The 33-year-old two-time Indianapolis 500 winner was taken to hospital in a helicopter after his car was involved in a massive 15-vehicle crash, his vehicle flying over another on lap 11 of the race.
IndyCar chief executive Randy Bernard later confirmed at a press conference that Wheldon had died as a result of "unsurvivable injuries".
Figures from the world of motor racing were quick to pay tribute to the 2005 IndyCar series champion, who had recently been working on a testing programme for enhanced safety measures. Hamilton, the 2008 Formula One world champion, said: "This is an extremely sad day. Dan was a racer I'd followed throughout my career, as I often followed in his footsteps as we climbed the motorsport ladder in the UK.
"He was an extremely talented driver. As a British guy, who not only went over to the States but who twice won the Indy 500, he was an inspirational guy, and someone that every racing driver looked up to with respect and admiration. "This is a tragic loss at such a young age. My heart goes out to his family and friends during this extremely difficult time."
Hamilton's McLaren team-mate and fellow former world champion Jenson Button paid tribute to Wheldon on Twitter. He wrote: "Just woken up to the most horrific news.. Dan Wheldon RIP...
"I have so many good memories of racing with Dan in the early 90's, a true fighter. We've lost a legend in our sport but also a great guy.
"I can't begin to imagine what his family are going through and my thoughts are with them at this very difficult time."