Archive | June, 2012

Riccardo Patrese: The Italian who refused to retire

30 Jun

Today marks day 6 of the Formula 1 Formula week of legends (25th June – 1st July). These legends are drivers who have been unsung but have completed achievements that deserve merit. Today’s hero is Riccardo Patrese a man who broke records with his 256 race starts.

At the Brazilian GP 1989 Riccardo Patrese made history becoming the most experienced F1 driver with 177 starts. One season later Patrese yet again broke a milestone, this time it was for being the first driver to reach 200 starts in F1. When Patrese retired at the end of 1993 he’d accumulated 256 race starts, here’s his story:

In 1977 Patrese made his debut with the Shadow racing team replacing Renzo Zorxi. It was a successful debut for Riccardo finishing 9th out of the 12 cars who finished the 1977 Monaco GP and most impressively beating Jacky Ickx. It was a wait before Patrese could impress again as he suffered four retirements in the next 7 races. Patrese managed to impress at the last race of the 1977 season in Japan, finishing 6th and getting a point. In 1978 Patrese moved to the Arrows team founded by Jackie Oliver who he drove alongside in 1977. It was a success.

At Arrow’s second race in South Africa Patrese came close to victory until an engine failure forced him to retire from first place 15 laps from the end, but success was waiting round the corner as Patrese finished 6th at the next two races (USA west and Monaco) to pick up 2 points in the drivers championship. It was another three races before Riccardo would pick up points, this time he finished 2nd at the Swedish GP, 34 seconds behind the victor, Niki Lauda. Patrese than suffered a disappointing spell of results, retiring from 4 of the next 6 GPs and filing to pick up any points, but at the season’s final race at Canada rising from 12th on the grid to finish 4th. Patrese finished 1978 with 11 points.

By all accounts 1979 was a season to forget, Patrese stayed with Arrows but could only pick up points with a 5th place at Spa. But 1980 was more successful, despite retiring from 7 of the 14 races. In his first finish of the season Patrese finished 6th in Brazil, and then at the 4th race of the season (Patrese’s second finish) he finished 2nd at the USA West GP this time 49 seconds behind Nelson Piquet. The rest of the season failed to impress with Patrese picking up poor finishes and retirements. Patrese finished 1980 with 7 points.

1981 was another season plagued by retirements, this time retiring from 9 of the 15 races. But it wasn’t all bad, Patrese finished 3rd in Brazil and 2nd at the inaugural San Marino GP. In 1982 he moved to Brabham to drive alongside Nelson Piquet. Despite retiring from the first two races Patrese finished 3rd at USA West, and three races later Patrese picked up a fluke win in Monaco after 4 drivers retired from 1st place in the last two laps. Patrese also set his debut fastest lap at Monaco. In Canada it was Patrese’s 3rd podium of the season finishing 2nd at Canada only 13 seconds behind Nelson Piquet. Overall Piquet finished 5 of the 15 races picking up points at 4 of them (Patrese finished 5th in Switzerland).

In 1983 Patrese stayed with Brabham, Patrese was set to finish 1st at the San Marino GP, but he spun off with 6 laps remaining. At the 1983 German GP Patrese finished 3rd but he was almost 2 minutes off race winner, Rene Arnoux. At the final race of the season Patrese managed to pick up an impressive 1st place in South Africa after starting 3rd. For the 1984 and 1985 seasons Patrese drove for Alfa Romeo, but it was a disappointing couple of seasons the only result worth mentioning was a 3rd place at the 1984 Italian GP. So for 1986 Patrese moved back to Brabham, but it a successful move, over the next two seasons Patrese only finished 10 out of the 31 races.

In 1988 Patrese drove for the team after driving for the team at the ultimate race of the 1987 season. Patrese finished in the points 5 times to finish the year with 8 championship points. 1989 was the year that Patrese finally managed to put his driving skill into action only retiring four times. After 3 pointless races Patrese picked up his first podium for four seasons finishing second in Mexico behind Ayrton Senna, Patrese then finished 2nd at the following two races in the USA and Canada making it a trip to North America to remember. With the return to Europe Patrese continued his successful run finishing 3rd at the French GP. At the Hungarian GP Patrese picked up his debut pole position but retired on lap 54 with a radiator problem. At the final two races of the season Patrese returned to the podium, finishing 2nd in Japan and 3rd in Australia. Patrese finished the 1989 season 3rd in the championship with 40 points.

After the fantastic 1989 season Patrese must have expected great things, but sadly the car didn’t have championship contending pace. It was the San Marino GP where Patrese stood on the podium, and it was his first time on the top step since 1983. Patrese drove strongly from 3rd on the grid, but Patrese probably wouldn’t have won had Senna not retired on lap 3. Overall in 1989 Patrese picked up 23 points to finish 7th in the standings.

1991 was Patrese’s 5th year driving a Williams, despite finishing 43 points behind Championship winner Ayrton Senna Patrese had a great season to finish 3rd in the championship. Every race Patrese finished he picked up points in, but he had five retirements. Patrese started his points haul in Brazil finishing 2nd, only 3 seconds behind Senna. In Canada Patrese started from pole, but could only convert it into 3rd. But at the next race in Mexico Patrese converted the pole into top step on the podium. Patrese’s second victory of the season came in Portugal where Patrese started 1st and finished 1st beating Ayrton Senna by 20 seconds. Patrese finished 3rd in the championship with 53 points.

1992 was Patrese’s most successful season, he finished 2nd on seven occasions, 3rd twice and top of the podium in Japan profiting from Senna’s and Mansell’s retirements. This record of podiums gave Patrese second place in the championship with 56 points, even if he was 52 points behind world champion Nigel Mansell.

For 1993 Patrese moved to Benetton to drive alongside Michael Schumacher, but he found it hard to work with Schumacher so he retired at the end of the season. Patrese picked up his final podium of his career at Hungary finishing over a minute behind the man who replaced Patrese at Williams, Damon Hill.

Since his retirement Patrese has tested a Williams F1 car in 2002, he raced in the now defunct Grand Prix Masters Series.

Throughout his career Patrese set the record for the number of race entries, 257. Of those 256 race starts he finished 126 (less than 50%). Patrese won 6 races, got 37 podiums, picked up 281 points, 8 pole positions and 13 fastest laps.

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Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina: the man who set the ball rolling

29 Jun

Today marks day 5 of the Formula 1 Formula week of legends (25th June – 1st July). These legends are drivers who have been unsung but have completed achievements that deserve merit. Today’s driver is Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina, the Italian driver who won the inaugural Formula 1 World Championship.

When asked to name a F1 world champion many will mention the names of the greats: Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna and in more recent years: Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton. But few will name the inaugural world champion, Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina who was world champion in 1950, the first year of the Formula 1 World Championship.

By today’s racing climate many would have thought Nino was too old to be starting in F1, at the time of his first race he was 43, but in the days of 50s racing when fatalities were common and the machinery regularly broke experience was a very important trait, and Farina had it in droves, he’d won his first major race in 1940 in Libya and was even a doctor of engineering.

Farina was lucky to be chosen in 1950 for the invincible Alfa Romeo team alongisde Luigi Fagioli and Juan Manuel Fangio. It was a very strong performance by the entire team with every race being won by an Alfa Romeo, but Farina was the lucky man to dominate the team. The debut race was the 1950 British GP at Silverstone, Nino was by far the driver of the weekend, pole position, fastest lap and the inaugural race victory by 2.6 seconds over Fagioli. Next race meeting was in Monaco, but it wasn’t the weekend Farina hoped for retiring on the first lap after an incident. The third race scheduled for the calendar was the Indianapolis 500, but none of the regular season drivers took part in it. Race four was at the Swiss of Bremgarten, despite not claiming pole position Farina managed to win after Fangio retired on lap 32/42. Not only did he win (by o.4 secondsover Fagioli again) but he also set fastest lap, this meant that Farina was back at the top of the championship. The fifth race of the season was at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps but despite taking pole position and fastest lap Farina could only finish 4th, 4 minutes and 5 seconds behind winner Fangio. The next race was the French GP at Reims-Gueux but Farina failed to perform, finishing 7th after a fuel pump forced him to retire whilst Fangio won again.

The final race was at Monza and anyone of the three Alfa drivers could claim the championship. Fangio was the favourite, all he had to do was finish 2nd and the title was definitely his whilst Farina had to beat Fangio by at least two positions. Things didn’t look promising for Farina when he qualified 3rd which meant he’d start behind Fangio who’d qualified on pole, but lady luck smiled on Nino in the race, Fangio retired on lap 23 with a gearbox change, but took over team-mate Piero Taruffi’s car, only to retire that on lap 34 with an engine problem. Meanwhile Farina drove a good race to win by over a minute and claim the world championship. During 1950 Farina entered 6 races with 3 victories and finishing on 30 points.

For 1951 Farina stayed with Alfa Romeo, and it was another promising start finishing 3rd in Switzerland and first in Belgium. But disapointing performances in France, Great Britain and Germany left him well behind Fangio. Italy was a stronger performance finishing 3rd after a shared drive with Felice Bonetto and then finishing 3rd in Spain. Farina finished 1951 with 22 points to finish 4th.

1952 saw a move to title dominators Ferrari but over the next two years Farina was always the second driver. Over the 1952 and 1953 seasons he started 15 races, finishing 3rd once, 2nd seven times and winning just one race, the 1953 German GP. In 1952 he was 2nd with 27 points and in 1953 he was 3rd with 32.

After 1953 Farina became a much more occasional driver only starting 5 races over the next two seasons, finishing 3rd at the 1955 Belgian GP, 2nd and 3rd in the 1955 Argentinian GP (he shared drives with two drivers, one finishing 2nd and one 3rd) and finished 2nd in the 1954 Argentinian GP, all the five races were in Ferraris. What was most impressive was that all his races in 1955 Farina was full of painkillers after being badly burnt in a Sports Car race at Monza in 1954.

After this point Farina didn’t compete in F1 although he did try his hand (unsuccessfully) at the Indianapolis 500. During his F1 career Farina picked up the 1950 drivers championship, started 33 races, winning 5 and picking up podiums at 20 races. He picked up 127.333 etc. points 5 fastest laps and 5 pole positions.

Farina also had success in the 1953 Spa 24 hours which he won in a team with Mike Hawthorn.

In 1966 Farina died in a car crash whilst on his way to the 1966 French Grand Prix.

Lella Lombardi: adding the feminine touch to F1

28 Jun

Today marks the fourth of the Formula 1 Formula week of legends (25th June – 1st July). These legends are drivers who have been unsung but have completed achievements that deserve merit. Today’s driver is Lella Lombardi, the only female driver to start more than 10 races and pick up championship points.

Since it’s inaugural season in 1950 there have been 802 F1 racing drivers. Of which only 5 have been female. Not a statistic to be proud of in a society where equality is almost present everywhere. Of these five only two have actually started a race: Maria Teresa de Filippis (3 starts) and Lella Lombardi who started twelve races and is the only female to have picked up F1 points (o.5 of them to be precise).

Maria Grazia Lombardi, a.k.a. Lelle Lombardi was born in Italy in 1941, and at the age of 33 she made he F1 debut, driving for Allied Polymer Group, a privately entered Brabham car. She was only entered for one race in the 1974 season, Great Britain, but she never started the race due to failing to qualify. But in 1975 her career took a turn for the better, she secured a drive with March and despitie retiring from her first race of the season at South Africa she impressed enough to race for the team again in Spain.

It was Spain 1975 where she picked up her 0.5 points, the race was held at the Montjuic circuit, a street circuit in Barcelona. The race was supposed to be 75 laps long, but the race ended after just 29 when Rolf Stommelen crashed killing five spectators, due to the race not reaching 50% distance only half points were awarded, and because Lella was sitting 6th at the time she picked up the final o.5 points. She drove for the team for most of the rest of the season but it was disappointingly average, of the 10 races she drove after Spain she finished 4, and only contested for points at Germany where she finished 7th, one place off the points. She finished off the season with Williams.

In 1976 Lella started the season driving for March, but after a disappointing 14th in Brazil she was dropped. She did enter three more races that season with RAM Racing, only qualifying for one of the races, finishing 12th in Australia.

In 1992 Lella died of cancer.

There have been other female successes in motor sport, Desire Wilson won the British Aurora F1 series race at Brands Hatch in 1980. In the Indy 500 Danica Patrick finished 3rd in 2005, 4th in 2005 and 6th in 2006, and there were plans for her to test for Honda in 2009 before the team went bust. Since 2000 9 female drivers have competed in the Le Mans 24 hours with Vanina Ickx (daughter of former F1 driver Jacky Ickx) finishing 7th in 2011. Michelle Theriault has won four races in the Camping World Truck Series.

And there is still hope for female F1 drivers, there are currently two female drivers contracted to Formula 1 teams, DTM driver Susie Wolff is contracted with Williams to be a development driver. Whilst Maria de Villota is a test driver for Marussia.

There is hope for F1 equality yet!

Maurice Trintignant: A sticker not a quitter

27 Jun

Today is day three of the Formula 1 Formula week of legends (25th June – 1st July). These legends are drivers who have been unsung but have completed achievements that deserve merit. Todays driver is Maurice Trintignant, a driver who competed in 15 consecutive seasons in Formula 1 from 1950 to 1964.

In recent years drivers like Rubens Barrichello and Jarno Trulli have become well known and built a reputation on being in F1 for what seems like forever, but in the 50s and 60s that role was taken by French driver Maurice Trintignant who competed in fifteen consecutive seasons.

Now this achievement may seem unimportant in comparison to Rubens Barrichello’s 19 consecutive seasons but Maurice’s achievement is especially impressive due to the dangers in the sport during his time and during his time 24 F1 drivers died due to race related incidents.

Maurice started his F1 career in 1950, the inaugural year with Equipe Gordini but it wasn’t a success he retired from both races he started. He stayed with Gordini for 1951 but it was much the same as Maurice started four races and retired from four. Maurice started 1952 with Ecurie Rosier a team ran by Louis Rosier which for 1952 bought the Ferrari 500 chassis. Maurice was entered for one race with the team but he didn’t start the race. After that Maurice went back to Equipe Gordini and at France he picked up his first ever points (and his first ever finish). For finishing 5th he picked up 2 points. Overall of the five races with Gordini that season he finished two (the other finish was 6th at the Netherlands). In 1953 Maurice stayed with Gordini, he started 8 races, finishing 4 picking up 4 points.

For 1954 Trintignant went back to Ecurie Rosier for the first race and he finished 4th in Argentina. But after the first race Maurice moved to another new team, Scuderia Ferrari and he started with a bang, finishing 2nd in Belgium and then 3rd in Germany in his fourth race for Ferrari. In 1954 Maurice started 8 races, finished 6 (his highest so far) finished on the podium twice and picked up 17 points which gave him fourth in the championship. The next year was 1955 and Maurice stayed with Ferrari, he finished the first race of the season (Argentina) in both 2nd and 3rd positions (due to car sharing) picking up 3.333 etc. points. The second race of the season saw the return of Monaco for the first time since 1950 and it was a great success for Maurice as he won his first ever GP by 20.2 seconds. Overall in 1955 Maurice started 6 races, finished four of them picked up 2 (or 3 podiums depending on how you see it) and one victory, overall Maurice finished on 11.33333 etc. points and finished 4th in the championship.

In 1956 Maurice drove for two teams: Vandervell Products Ltd. (4 races) and Automobiles Bugatti (1 race). Of the five races he started he retired from all five of them. In 1957 he returned to Ferrari for three races, finishing two races where he picked up points. He finished 5th in Monaco and 4th in Great Britain (another shared drive) to finish the season on 5 points.

1958 saw Maurice drive for three teams:  Owen Racing Organisation (1 race), Scuderia Centro Sud (1 race) and Rob Walker Racing team (7 races). At the Rob Walker team Maurice won his second -and last- GP again at Monaco yet again by 20.2 seconds and he also finished 3rd at Germany. Maurice finished 1958 with 9 starts, 6 finishes and 12 points. 1959 was an abnormal year for Maurice in that he finished all 8 of the races that he started including two podiums at Monaco and in the USA. He stayed with Rob Walker Racing Team for the entire year and he finished 5th in the drivers standings with 19 points.

In 1960 Trintignant drove for three teams: David Brown Corporation (1 race), Rob Walker Racing Team (1 race, in Argentina where despite finishing 3rd he was ineligible  due to a shared drive with Stirling Moss) and Scuderia Centro Sud (4 races). 1961 and 1962 was an equally uneventful years,in 1961 he drove for Scuderia Serenissima where he finished three of the five races he started but he did surpass the previous record for most Grand Prix entries, and in 1962 he returned to Rob Walker Racing Team where he finished two of the 6 races he started. In 1963 Trintignant drove for both Reg Parnell Racing (2 races) and Scuderia Centro Sud (1 race).

Maurice’s final year was 1964 and for that season he privately entered his own team, he finished two of the five races he entered and picked up his final championship points at Germany where he finished 5th.

During Maurice’s career which spanned 15 seasons: he reset the record for the most Grand Prix entries (84) of which he started 82 and finished 43, 19 of these in points positions. Over the years he drove for 12 teams, he picked up 72.3333 points, set 1 fastest lap, picked up 10 podiums (if you include both 2nd and 3rd place at Argentina 1955) and won two races. Outside of F1 he won the Le Mans 24 hours in 1954 with Jose Frolian Gonzalez, and was elected to be mayor of Vergeze, France.

In 2005 Maurice Trintignant died aged 87.

Bruce McLaren: a technical driver who founded McLaren

26 Jun

Today is day two of the Formula 1 Formula week of legends (25th June- 1st July) These legends are drivers who have been unsung but have completed achievements that deserve merit. Today’s driver is Bruce McLaren, a talented driver and the founder of McLaren F1.

If you had to think of someone who founded an F1 team you may think of Enzo Ferrari, Frank Williams or in recent times Ross Braun, but there is of course an obvious name many would forget, Bruce McLaren. Despite McLaren’s modern day image of being a British team Bruce was actually born in New Zealand and many of the other drivers for the team were also from New Zealand.

Bruce broke onto the F1 scene with an explosive start, it was at the 1958 German GP where F1 and F2 cars competed against each other. Despite being in a slower F2 car and being up against the worlds best Bruce miraculously managed to finish 5th overall, and despite picking up no championship points (he was not allowed to because he was driving a F2 car) Bruce picked up the attention of major teams, and was quickly signed for Cooper. Bruce competed for Cooper at one GP in 1958, the Moroccan GP where he finish 12th. Bruce had impressed in though, and in 1959 he was re-signed for Cooper. It was an impressive season, Bruce started 7 GPs and managed to finish on the podium twice overall finishing on 16.5 points. Bruce drove for Cooper again in 1960 and managed to finish 2nd overall in the championship finishing on the podium five times.

During the years 1963-1965 McLaren carried on driving for Cooper, he participated in 30 races picking up 40 points and 6 podiums.

1966 was the year which made Bruce a legend of the sport, he founded the team ‘Bruce McLaren Motor Racing’ and despite it only finishing two races and only picking up 3 points he carried on with the team in 1967, finishing fourth in Monaco for another 3 points. 1968 was the year when the team started to become successful, Bruce finished 5th in the drivers championship picking up the teams first victory in Belgium and two more podiums at Canada and Mexico whilst team-mate Denny Hulme finished 3rd in the championship winning the Italian and the Canadian Grand Prixs. 1969 saw McLaren building on the success of the previous year, Bruce finish 3rd in the championship with three podiums whilst Denny Hulme finished sixth having won the Mexican GP, overall the team was fourth in the constructors championship. In 1970 Bruce only raced three times in F1 before his death at the Goodwood circuit testing a Can-am car.

Since Bruce’s death his McLaren team has gone from strength to strength, in 1974 Emerson Fittipaldi won the drivers championship and the constructors championship for the team. Up to Monaco 2012 McLaren have won 176 races, had 149 pole positions, set 149 fastest laps, competed in 709 races, won the driver championship 12 times and the constructors championship on 8 occasions.

Bruce also built cars that: dominated the CanAm  sports car championship, won three Indianapolis 500 races, won the Le Mans 24 hours and the Sebring 12 hours.

ALONSO TAKES THE CHEQUERED FLAG IN AN AMAZING VALENCIA RACE

26 Jun

The Michael Report- 2012 FORMULA ONE GRAND PRIX OF EUROPE

AT ONE POINT in this race, the most exciting development in today’s European Grand Prix was a stray hat blowing onto the outskirts of the circuit; for twenty laps Vettel soared into a considerable 20 second lead, and the F1 cars processed round Valencia in the usual boring, monotonous style, as was expected of the heavily criticised circuit, but then it all changed…

After lap twenty, Kamui Kobayashi and Bruno Senna collided which caused Senna to spin out- even learner drivers have to remember to use their mirrors! However, travelling at speeds in excess of 200 km/h, Senna can be excused because it was extremely difficult following an overtake and a large collection of cars closely behind; nevertheless a pit stop and a drive through penalty cost him time and position.

The excitement continued after Jean Eric Vergne’s erratic driving into the car of Heikki Kovaleinen led to punctured tyres and a lot of debris, and the safety car was deployed, ending Vettel’s massive lead, Vergne was later given a 10 place grid penalty for this. Hamilton underwent another abysmal pit stop as the safety car entered the race; when the proper racing re- started, Fernando Alonso, who had gained huge places from eleventh drove like lightning and overtook both first Romain Grosjean around the outside at turn 2 and then Sebastian Vettel when he retired.

The final incident involved Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado on the penultimate lap; as Hamilton’s tyres deteriorated, Maldonado tried to overtake after the DRS zone, but Hamilton stayed on the racing line, fairly, in my opinion, and Maldonado went completely off the circuit, but instead of driving into the run off area to rejoin the track, the Venezuelan collided into Hamilton, sending the car into the air, and Hamilton was NOT HAPPY- the F1 £35,000 dummy (steering wheel) was certainly thrown out the pram! Maldonado would later be given a 20 second penalty for this.

Picture courtesy of formulaone.com

Ice Man Kimi Raikkönen took second place, and eighteen points, after a superb race, and Michael Schumacher took third place and fifteen points, earning himself his first podium since 2006, becoming the oldest podium driver since Jack Brabham in 1970!

Force India were very impressive this weekend, and Nico Hulkenberg and Paul Di Resta demonstrated impressive pace and impressive form; Hulkenberg took fifth place and ten points; Di Resta finished seventh, earning six points. Mark Webber stormed through from nineteenth up to fourth by the end of the race; he earned twelve points. Nico Rosberg received eight points in sixth; Jenson Button received a less than satisfactory eighth place and four points; Sergio Perez came ninth, and Senna picked up the final point for 10th.

What an exciting, and eventful race! Nobody could have envisioned the Valencia street circuit delivering actual action, and even the Race Stewards were kept awake! Kamui Kobayashi will be handed a five place grid penalty in Silverstone following a collision with Felipe Massa, leading to tyre damage and costing the Ferrari driver many places- he finished sixteenth. Jean Eric Vergne is also penalised with a 10 place penalty also for his collision.

Picture courtesy of formulaone.com

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

Alonso’s 25 points allowed him to soar to the top of the Driver’s Championships; he now has 111 points, a comfortable 20 point buffer between Mark Webber, currently second with 91 points; Lewis Hamilton’s pointless race has meant that he is third, still with 88 points; Vettel is fourth with 85 points, and Nico Rosberg is now fifth with 75 points, with Raikkönen creeping closely behind with 73 points. A great leap now to seventh and eighth to Grosjean and Button, who have 53 and 49 points respectively.

Concerning Constructors, Red Bull still lead with 176 points, and McLaren follow with 137 points in second place. It is a tight contest lower down, as only four points separate Lotus and Ferrari, who have 126 and 122 points respectively. Mercedes are fifth with 97 points; Caterham came close to a point with Vitaly Petrov, but failed to do so by the chequered flag- they share last place with Marussia and HRT who are still to get off the mark.

The next race is the British Grand Prix in Silverstone in just two weeks time- don’t forget to keep following the F1F on Facebook, on Twitter and online as there is still plenty of analysis off the circuit, and expect live updates from Silverstone throughout the race weekend!

You may wish to edit the fact that Vergne now has a 10 place penalty, fine, and Maldonado’s time penalty.

Peter Collins: The very definition of Sportsmanship

25 Jun

Today marks the start of the Formula 1 Formula week of legends (25th June – 1st July). These legends are drivers who have been unsung but have completed achievements that deserve merit. Today’s driver is Peter Collins, a man who few have heard of but was far and away one of the best ever British F1 drivers, here’s his story:

Collins first became an F1 driver in 1952 driving with HW Motors. He drove for the team until the 1954 season, he only started 8 eight races and finished 3 of them picking up 0 points, but he managed to impress during the short spell to drive for G A Vandervell in 1954. It was a disappointing year, he was only entered for three races and only finished one of them. In 1955 he changed team twice, first joining Owen Racing Organisation for one race (where he was a retirement) and then for Officine Alfieri Maserati (he also only started one race from which he retired).

So far in the story Peter hasn’t been impressive, he’s been with 4 teams entered for 15 races, started 12 of them finished 4 and picked up 0 points. But miraculously some how he’d impressed enough to be signed for Ferrari in 1956 driving alongside Juan Manuel Fangio already a triple world champion.

Many would have been intimidated by Fangio’s supreme record but Peter was made of sterner stuff and he took the fight to him. The season started in Fangio’s home country Argentina but it wasn’t the start Collins would have hoped for as he retired on lap 58/98 crashing out. Monaco was a massive improvement for Peter, and picked up a shared second place with Fangio to pick up 3 championship points. The next race in the championship was the Indianapolis 500 which Peter didn’t participate in. The fourth race of the season was the Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps and was the race where Peter picked up his first ever race win to capitalise on retirements from Fangio and Moss. He copied this achievement at the next race, yet again winning this time at Reims for the French GP, but only by a few inches. This meant that Collins was leading the championship. At Great Britain Collins picked up his fourth podium of the year finishing second in the car he took over from Alfonso de Portago. In Germany Peter yet again took over the car of a team-mate, but this time he crashed the car to leave him 8 points behind Fangio in the championship with only one race left t go.

Going into the last race Collins needed to not only win the race but to also set the fastest lap if he wanted to win the championship and become the first British driver to be world champion, whilst Fangio had to pick up points to pick up his 4th title. Lady luck appeared to be smiling on Collins’ when Fangio retired from the race with steering trouble. But in a selfless and generous gesture Peter pulled into the pits and let Fangio drive the car and stop Maserati driver Jean Behra from winning the title. Fangio went on to win his fourth championship whilst Collins not only lost his chance of a championship but also second place leaving Peter to finish third in the championship behind Fangio and Stirling Moss. This gesture is the reason why Collins is an unsung hero and deserves much more recognition than he gets. Here is a video of the 1956 Italian GP:

Collins picked up 22 more points before his death at the Nurburgring in the 1958 German Grand Prix. He drove for Ferrari for both the 1957 and the 1958 season.

In 1958 Peter’s good friend Mike Hawthorn won the championship and the accolade of being the first British championship winner. Hawthorn retired after that season due to the death of Collins.