Late IndyCar star Justin Wilson’s former manager Jonathan Palmer has paid tribute to his former charge’s life and career, and says the manner of his fatal accident needs to be addressed.
Palmer, himself an ex-F1 racer, said Wilson "was like a son to me", having worked closely with Justin's father Keith to help guide him to Formula 1 and then on to a long career in American racing.
"Three weeks ago I was talking to a delighted Justin Wilson after his second place at Mid-Ohio with Andretti Autosport and now, barely believably, he is gone, due to an accident in which he was an innocent victim, having been hit on the head by debris from someone else's crash," said Palmer in a statement on his MSV website.
"When he was in even a reasonably competitive car, Justin was awesome. Whether in FPA, F3000, F1 or Champ Cars and IndyCar, he could do great things. Brilliant racecraft and overtaking ability was his forte.
"But Justin achieved far more than just being a brilliant race driver. He was the most outstanding human being. Never have I known a more popular driver. With everyone: the fans, media, and team personnel. But also with the hardest challenge of all – rival drivers.
"Somehow Justin managed a steely determination in the race car with the most chilled, amiable disposition outside it. He was hugely popular and he walked tall – in character as much as physically."
"Vital that further work is done"
Palmer urged the sport to learn lessons from Wilson's sad demise to improve safety systems.
"For Justin to lose his life as an innocent victim is an absolute tragedy and it is vital that further work is done to progress motor racing safety," said Palmer.
"It has been an enormous privilege for me to have been so close to both such an exciting race driver and inspirational young man who will forever remain an example to all racing drivers.
"The world and particularly motorsport will be a poorer place without Justin but he leaves a legacy of being the epitome of a true sportsman."