London: The Formula One community awoke with heavy hearts on Tuesday after British racer Justin Wilson, a friend to many in the grand prix paddock, died because of head injuries suffered in an IndyCar race in the United States.
The 37-year-old, who raced in Formula One for Minardi and Jaguar in 2003, died in hospital after being hit by debris and crashing in the closing laps at Pocono Raceway oval in Pennsylvania.
Formula One drivers and teams, former colleagues and rivals, remembered Wilson as a smiling giant out of the car and determined competitor in it.
"The motorsport world comes 2 a standstill once again," 2009 world champion Jenson Button, who attended the funeral of French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi a month ago, said of his compatriot on Twitter.
"I raced with Justin as far back as 1989 in karting and remember his smile was infectious, such a lovely guy," added the McLaren driver.
The sentiment was echoed by Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, a pallbearer at Bianchi`s funeral. "So sad to hear that Justin Wilson passed away. What dreadful news and what a dramatic year for racing. Losing too many champions," he said.
Button`s double world champion team mate Fernando Alonso, who like Wilson started his Formula One career at Minardi, expressed his condolences. "So sad, difficult to accept," he added.
Australian Mark Webber, who was Wilson`s team mate at Jaguar, said: "Last night a very good man left us. Mate. So sorry. RIP Justin. My thoughts are with your loved ones."
Red Bull principal Christian Horner, whose team was previously Jaguar, spoke of the sadness of all at the Milton Keynes factory.
"Justin left his mark on many who worked with him during the Jaguar days, he is remembered fondly for the kind and humble person he was," he said in a statement.
"Having known Justin since his karting days on the British circuits, it was always obvious to me that he was destined for great things in motorsport.
"His progress through the lower formulas was impressive and he absolutely flourished in F3000...I followed his successful career with interest over the years.
"Justin will be remembered not only as a talented driver but also as quite simply one of the nicest blokes in motorsport," said Horner.
Formula One champions Mercedes remembered "a great driver and an even greater man...a true racer and a winner, flat out to the flag."