Because the collision isn’t genuine, he isn’t given a name.
The moment in question is Watkins Glen qualifying for the 1973 US Grand Prix.
Francois Cevert’s Tyrrell is clearly depicted in the blue vehicle – blue paint, ELF emblem on the rear wing, number 6 on the shattered nose cone beside the car – and he did die in a collision in the Glen that year. The only issue is that Cevert’s automobile did not pass over the barrier. It slammed against both sides of the Esses before flipping on top of the armco. Cevert’s colleague and mentor, Jackie Stewart, was the final automobile to arrive at the site, and Cevert’s body was still hanging upside down in the car. Because he was already dead, the marshalls saw no reason to hurry their work.
There was a driver who died in the manner shown – beheaded when his vehicle slid through a barrier – but that was Helmuth Koinigg, who was racing for Surtees for the first time in 1974. On the tenth lap of the race, at Turn 7, his suspension broke at a low speed (about 60 mph) and he was thrown into the barrier. The automobile would have hit and stopped if the barrier had been properly fastened. The installation, however, was shoddy; the unprotected lower rail crumbled almost instantly, and the car went beneath the top rail without slowing down. Koinigg began his racing career by purchasing the Mini Cooper that Lauda famously repaired and raced from Niki, in an odd connection to the film’s plot.
One of the many topics you’d need to address with Ron Howard is why they opted to jumble things together…
I’m not sure why they didn’t name him, but Francois Cevert is who he is.
He was not, however, beheaded. His automobile collided with the barrier, fatally injuring him in the chest.
Unfortunately, we never got to see him perform to his full ability in Formula One.