Tributes pour in from F1 world as Hyundai confirm Craig Breen has died

Thomas Maher
Hyundai's Craig Breen, pictured in Sweden 2022.

Hyundai's Craig Breen, pictured in Sweden 2022.

Hyundai have confirmed Irish rallying star Craig Breen has died in a testing accident in Croatia, with the FIA and F1 personnel responding to the tragedy.

Breen had been taking part in a private testing event ahead of the Croatia Rally, the fourth round of the 2023 World Rally Championship, when his car is understood to have collided with a roadside pole.

His team, Hyundai Motorsport, confirmed the 33-year-old Irishman had succumbed to his injuries, with co-driver James Fulton uninjured.

“Hyundai Motorsport is deeply saddened to confirm that driver Craig Breen today lost his life following an accident during the pre-event test for Croatia Rally,” read a statement from Hyundai.

“Co-driver James Fulton was unharmed in the incident that occurred just after midday local time. Hyundai Motorsport sends its sincerest condolences to Craig’s family, friends, and his many fans.

“Hyundai Motorsport will make no further comment at this time.”

While never a rally winner at the top level, Breen won legions of fans during his time in the World Rally Championship. Last season, he drove for the M-Sport Ford team en route to seventh place overall. His most recent competitive outing was at Rally Sweden in February, where he finished second to Ott Tanak.

F1 and WRC governing body the FIA have issued a statement acknowledging Breen’s passing, with President Mohammed Ben Sulayem saying: “On behalf of the FIA, I extend sincere condolences to the family & friends of Craig Breen following his passing during a private testing accident. Our thoughts & prayers are with his loved ones & the Rally community at this difficult time.”

Motorsport Ireland’s Aiden Harper said: “The Irish motorsport community is numbed by this tragic news. Craig was a world-class driver and a world-class person. To Craig’s family, his parents Ray and Jackie, his sister Kellie, brother-in-law Darragh, and nephew Bobbie, I wish to extend my deepest condolences and all our thoughts remain with Craig’s co-driver James Fulton. May they all find the strength and support they need at this unimaginably tragic time.”

Grand Prix Driver’s Association chairman Alexander Wurz paid tribute to his friend, saying “Oh noooooo, thats so sad that we lost Craig Breen today in a private rally test. My condolences to his family and friends. He was such a good lad. Rest in peace my dear friend.”

Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas tweeted: “Shocking news. RIP @Craig_Breen 🍀 would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and colleagues of Craig Breen. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.