Paul Warwick (lost footage of fatal British F3000 crash; 1991)
On 21st July 1991, during the fifth round of the 1991 British F3000 Series at Oulton Park, Paul Warwick lost control of his Reynard 90D at the Knickerbrook corner after experiencing a front wishbone failure. He ended up being ejected from the car upon impact with the Armco barrier, and was killed instantly from the crash. There were no television cameras for this race, and it is known that the police confiscated all amateur recordings of the fatal accident, which have not been seen since.
Paul Warwick was the younger brother of Derek Warwick, who had been competing in Formula One since 1981. Paul aimed to follow in his older brother's footsteps, and had been making progress towards achieving that objective by winning the first four races in the 1991 British F3000 Series. In fact, such was his dominance of the Series that he had also qualified on pole for all four races, and achieved four fastest laps and lap records in the process. The fifth race, which was the second to occur at Oulton Park, once again showcased the British driver's talent, as he again qualified on pole position. Hence, he was the favourite to win that year's Oulton Park International Gold Cup, awarded to the winning driver of a race deemed Oulton's highlight of the weekend.
The Fatal Accident
Warwick had again set the fastest lap, and was on-course for his fifth consecutive victory. On lap 23, Warwick attempted to negotiate the Knickerbrook corner, when he suddenly lost control of his Reynard 90D after its right front wishbone broke away from the vehicle. With the steering locked, Warwick was unable to take any evasive action, and crashed into the Armco barrier at 140mph. The car disintegrated upon impact and would catch fire, while Warwick was thrown free from the wreckage, his body landing between the Armco's tyre wall and fence. Despite medical assistance at the scene, and a helicopter airlifting Warwick to the North Staffordshire Infirmary in Stoke on Trent, Warwick passed away from his injuries aged 22.
The race was immediately cancelled following the accident, with Warwick declared the winner. The 45 points he scored would be enough for him to posthumously win the 11-race championship, with closest rivals Fredrik Ekblom and Julian Westwood scoring 42 and 41 respectively. Warwick remains one of only two posthumous motorsport champions, the other being Jochen Rindt, who won the 1970 Formula One World Championship. An investigation determined that the Reynard 90D's tub was damaged in an accident the previous season, which contributed towards the suspension failure. Warwick was the second driver to have been killed at Oulton Park in 1991, with Andrew Colson passing away at a Formula Renault testing session following a fatal accident in the same location as Warwick's. Because of this, a chicane was added at the Knickerbrook's entrance later that same year.
There were no television cameras present for this race, but it is known that some amateur footage of the fatal accident exists. According to one Ten Tenths user called Thundersports, two video cameras captured footage of the crash. However, the police confiscated these tapes for the investigation into the accident, with them later being given to the Warwick family. It is unknown whether the tapes still exist, but they are highly unlikely to be publicly released out of respect for Warwick. A few photos consisting of the aftermath and the helicopter taking off remain the only publicly accessible media relating to the crash.
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- Motorsport detailing the career of Paul Warwick and his fatal accident. Retrieved 28 Feb '22
- Motorsport Magazine providing the results, statistics and final standings of the 1991 British F3000 Series. Retrieved 28 Feb '22
- Archived Oulton Park detailing the Oulton Park International Gold Cup. Retrieved 28 Feb '22
- Motorsport Memorial detailing Warwick's fatal crash. Retrieved 28 Feb '22
- Influential Moments in Racing detailing the crash and noting footage was confiscated by the police. Retrieved 28 Feb '22
- Ten Tenths forum discussing Paul Warwick and containing Thundersports' account of the footage. Retrieved 28 Feb '22