Devastated world champ pays tribute to fellow British driver, who succumbed to his head injuries on Monday after an IndyCar race in Pennsylvania
Belgium: Lewis Hamilton has hailed Justin Wilson as motor racing's "ultimate gentleman" following his tragic death on Monday night.
Wilson, the 37-year-old former Formula One driver, succumbed to the head injuries he sustained in an IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania on Sunday.
With 21 laps of the ABC Supply 500 remaining, Wilson was struck on the crash helmet by debris after American rookie Sage Karam slammed into the concrete wall at the oval track.
The debris, reported to be part of the nose cone of Karam's car, catapulted high up into the air after hitting the helpless Wilson on the head. The Sheffield-born racer was knocked out instantly.
A battle he lost
Wilson was left in a coma fighting for his life after being airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, but it was a battle which he would lose. The grave news that the sport feared came through in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Justin Wilson. Pic/Getty Images
It meant the motor racing community was once more mourning the death of one of their own. Jules Bianchi, the talented French Formula One driver, succumbed to the devastating brain injuries he sustained at last October's Japanese Grand Prix only 37 days ago.
"I woke up this morning feeling positive in my heart until I read the news," said Hamilton, who is on course to become a triple world champion after winning Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.
"I am so devastated to hear of another passing of a great man and driver. I'd met Justin Wilson a few times growing up and he was the ultimate gentleman.
"Whilst I only knew him a little, I will miss him. We will miss him. May God rest his soul and keep his hands over his family. My thoughts are with the Wilson family."
Wilson, popular throughout the motor racing paddock, leaves behind a wife Julia, who he married in 2006, and two daughters, aged seven and five.
Jenson Button@JensonButton: The motorsport World comes 2 a standstill once again. I raced with Justin as far back as 1989 in Karting and remember his smile was infectious, such a lovely guy. #RIPJustin
Narain Karthikeyan @narainracing: Terrible news to wake up to, RIP Justin Wilson - one of the nicest race drivers I've known. A thorough gentleman, Just unreal.
Fernando Alonso @alo_oficial: #RIPJustinWilson, my thoughts are with his family and friends. So sad, difficult to accept.
Mark Webber@AussieGrit: Last night a very good man left us. Mate. So sorry. RIP Justin My thoughts are with your loved ones.
Felipe Massa @MassaFelipe19: A very sad day for motorsports. RIP Justin Wilson. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
Karun Chandhok @karunchandhok: Very sad news this morning about @justin_wilson...Showed real tenacity in junior formula to get to F1. Was such a nice guy.. Justin was a great example to young drivers... Made no excuses about his height despite the obvious difficulties & just got on with the job
Lost my brother, best friend and mentor: Stefan Wilson
Los Angeles: Justin Wilson's younger brother Stefan, also a racing driver, paid tribute on Twitter. "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 wrote.
Wilson was hit by the nose cone of fellow driver Sage Karam's car after it spun out on lap 179 of the 200-lap race. The father of two was airlifted to the hospital immediately after the crash, and never regained consciousness.