Former Formula 1 racer and double Le Mans 24 Hours winner JJ Lehto has been seriously injured in a high-speed boating accident in his native Finland. The 44-year-old suffered broken ribs and head injuries but managed to scramble from the water after the crash, but a friend on the boat was killed. Lehto remains in hospital while police investigate the incident which involved a six-metre Sea Ray 210 Fission speedboat, which is capable of 45 knots, thanks to its 300 horsepower engines.
According to the police the wreckage of the boat indicates an impact speed of around 40 knots, in an area where there is a five knot speed limit. This is because the bridge that the boat hit is located is over a canal. The width of the bridge is just 3.8 metres. The boat has a beam of 2.5 metres, which means that there would have been very little clearance on either side, probably around 65 cm.
The accident occurred at four o’clock in the morning. There are reports that the two men had spent the evening at a Chinese restaurant in the town of Raasepori, to the west of Helsinki. They then left the town and headed south to the canal, which gives access to the area of coastal islands, where Lehto has a cottage.
JJ competed in 62 Grands Prix between 1989 and 1994. He went on to win Le Mans in 1995 and 2005. He returned to F1 in 2001 as a commentator with the local MTV3 channel.
At the moment the police do not know who was driving the boat.