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Formula One fraternity pays tribute to Wheldon 17 Oct 2011

Dan Wheldon (GBR) Bryan Herta Autosport celebrates his Indy 500 win with the Borg Warner Trophy. IndyCar Series, Rd5, Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, USA, 29 May 2011. (L to R): Festival winner Jenson Button (GBR) Haywood Racing celebrates with second placed Daniel Wheldon (GBR). Formula Ford Festival and World Cup, Brands Hatch, England, 25 October 1998. Mark Webber (AUS) presents the Rookie of the Year award to Dan Wheldon (GBR). 2003 Autosport Awards, The Grosvenor, London, 7 December 2003. The winning team (L to R): Tony Kanaan (BRA), Dan Wheldon (GBR), Felipe Giaffone (BRA) and Rubens Barrichello (BRA) on the podium. Granja Viana 500 Kart Race, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 14 November 2004.

The Formula One paddock in Korea was in sombre mood on Monday after it awoke to the sad news of British driver Dan Wheldon’s death following a huge, multi-car accident in Sunday’s IndyCar season finale in Las Vegas, USA.

Although Wheldon, 33, never made it to Formula One, he did race with many of its current stars as he made his way through the motorsport ranks, en route to his two Indianapolis 500 wins and his 2005 IndyCar title.

“I have so many good memories of racing with Dan in the early 90's, a true fighter,” said McLaren’s Jenson Button, who competed against Wheldon in Formula Ford and Formula Three. “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.”

“This is a tragic loss at such a young age,” added Button’s team mate Lewis Hamilton. “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. 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.”

Force India’s Paul di Resta, whose cousin and now four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti narrowly avoided the carnage in Sunday’s race, commented: “Very sad news that a great racer has died. Rest in peace Dan. Thoughts are with your family.”

Red Bull’s Mark Webber, another to have raced Wheldon, added: “Rest in Peace Dan. I remember our early days in the UK in ‘95/’96. Miss ya.”

And on arriving home from Korea, Williams’ Rubens Barrichello stated: “Just got out from the plane and got the terrible news about the death of our friend Dan Wheldon. Will always remember the great times we had at karting in Brazil my friend. Rest in peace.”

Wheldon is survived by his wife Susie and two young sons, Sebastian and Oliver.