Peter Collins (racing driver)

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Peter Collins
Born(1931-11-06)6 November 1931
Died3 August 1958(1958-08-03) (aged 26)
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityUnited Kingdom British
Active years19521958
TeamsHWM,
Vanwall,
Maserati,
Ferrari
Races35 (32 starts)
Championships0
Wins3
Podiums9
Career points47
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First race1952 Swiss Grand Prix
First win1956 Belgian Grand Prix
Last win1958 British Grand Prix
Last race1958 German Grand Prix
 
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Peter Collins
Born(1931-11-06)6 November 1931
Died3 August 1958(1958-08-03) (aged 26)
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityUnited Kingdom British
Active years19521958
TeamsHWM,
Vanwall,
Maserati,
Ferrari
Races35 (32 starts)
Championships0
Wins3
Podiums9
Career points47
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First race1952 Swiss Grand Prix
First win1956 Belgian Grand Prix
Last win1958 British Grand Prix
Last race1958 German Grand Prix

Peter John Collins (6 November 1931 – 3 August 1958) was a Formula One driver from England. He participated in 35 World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 18 May 1952. He won 3 races, achieved 9 podiums, and scored a total of 47 championship points.

Early life and racing career[edit]

Peter Collins was born on 6 November 1931. He grew up in Mustow Green, on the south side of Kidderminster in Worcestershire, United Kingdom. The son of a motor garage owner and haulage merchant, Collins became interested in motor vehicles at a young age. At 16 he was expelled from school after having been caught riding ‘dodgem’ cars at a local fairground during school hours. Becoming an apprentice in his father’s garage, he soon began competing in local trials races.

In common with many British drivers of the immediate post-war period, Collins cut his racing teeth in the frenetic 500cc category (adopted as Formula 3 at the end of 1950), when his parents bought him a Cooper 500 from the fledgling Cooper Car Company. These small machines, powered by motorcycle engines, were also the proving ground of many of Collins' F1 contemporaries, notably including Stirling Moss.

Later career[edit]

Collins joined the Aston Martin sports car team in 1952, and scored a sensational victory at the 1952 Goodwood Nine Hours race. The following year, he took the Aston Martin DB3S he shared with Pat Griffith to victory in the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod.

Collins got his Formula One break in 1952, driving for the lowly HWM team, replacing Stirling Moss. Results did not come the team's way, and Collins left after the 1953 season. Following spells driving for Vanwall and Maserati, together with a brief outing in a BRM which ended with a crash in qualifying, Collins signed with Ferrari for the 1956 F1 season.

Collins' 1956 season with Ferrari proved to be a turning point, with a solid second place finish behind Moss at Monaco, and wins at the Belgian and French Grands Prix. Indeed, Collins was on the verge of becoming Britain's first F1 World Champion when he handed his Lancia-Ferrari D50 over to team leader Juan Manuel Fangio after the latter suffered a steering-arm failure toward the end of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Collins eventually finished second, but the advantage handed to Moss, and the extra points gained by Fangio's finish, demoted Collins to third place in the championship. Collins' selfless act gained him respect from Enzo Ferrari and high praise from Fangio: "I was moved almost to tears by the gesture... Peter was one of the finest and greatest gentlemen I ever met in my racing career."[1]

In 1956, Collins moved to Monaco in order to avoid compulsory military service in the British Army and thus continue his racing career.[2]

In January 1957 Collins married American actress Louise King and the couple took up residence on a yacht in Monaco harbour. The same year, Collins was joined at Ferrari by Mike Hawthorn. The two became very close friends, even arranging to split their winnings between each other, and together engaged in a fierce rivalry with fellow Ferrari driver Luigi Musso.[3] However, despite a third-place finish at the Nürburgring, Ferrari were distinctly under-par for much of the season as the 801 model (an evolution of the 1954 Lancia D50) was overweight and underpowered.

1958 saw the introduction of the new and improved Ferrari Dino 246 and once again results began to go the way of Scuderia Ferrari. Although achieving few results in the first half of the season, Collins improved and won the non championship International Trophy. However Enzo Ferrari felt Collins was distracted by his supposed playboy lifestyle. The Monaco yacht where he lived was considered a perpetual party by Ferrari who thought Collins was distracted and no longer focused on driving and developing sports cars. Collins was sacked by Ferrari after deliberately wrecking the clutch in his car, that he shared with Mike Hawthorn, during the Le Mans 24 hours rather than race in a rainstorm, and was found drinking in a pub in England before the end of the race!

Ferrari relented and allowed Collins to drive an F2 car until the end of the season, perhaps hoping to pacify Hawthorn who was angry about the treatment of a friend. At Rheims, Hawthorn refused to start unless Collins was allowed to start in a F1 car. He did, and finished fifth. Ferrari immediately sacked Collins again. Hawthorn responded by flying to Italy and virtually launching a commando raid on Ferrari headquarters in Modena. Having smashed down locked doors, Mike Hawthorn told Enzo Ferrari he would never drive another race for him unless Collins was given his Formula One seat again. Ferrari, perhaps sensibly, relented!

At Silverstone during the British Grand Prix, Collins responded with perhaps his greatest drive. Under team orders and his own wish to help his friend Hawthorn win the Championship, Collins led from the start, running flat out and more at 11/10 in an effort to break the Moss-driven Vanwall and in an inferior car [4] to the main protagonists driving on the limit for 45 laps, gradually pulling away from Moss until his Vanwall expired and Collins won. The Ferrari team management decided not to slow Collins down and flag Hawthorn through to the win after Collins' great drive. Stirling's future patron, Rob Walker told Collins after the race, that he found Collins' drive frightening and he should never drive like that again. It was his third and final career victory. That season he also took a third place at Monaco.

Death[edit]

During the 1958 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, whilst chasing Tony Brooks' Vanwall, disaster struck. Pushing hard to keep pace, Collins went into the Pflanzgarten section of the circuit, entered a turn too quickly causing his Ferrari to run wide and strike a ditch on the left side of the road. Collins lost control and flipped into the air and landed upside down.

Though Collins was thrown clear as the car somersaulted, he struck a tree, sustaining critical head injuries. Despite being taken to hospital, Collins died later that afternoon. His death was almost identical to the manner in which his Ferrari team mate Luigi Musso died. Team mate Mike Hawthorn was so disturbed by Collins' death that he retired from racing immediately after winning the 1958 Driver's Championship. Hawthorn would himself die the following year in an automobile accident while driving on the A3 bypass near Guildford.

Rivalry with Luigi Musso[edit]

Many years after the death of Peter Collins, Fiamma Breschi, Luigi Musso's girlfriend at the time of his death, revealed in a television documentary entitled The Secret Life of Enzo Ferrari the nature of the rivalry between team-mates Collins, Hawthorn and Musso. Breschi recalled that the antagonism between Musso and the two English drivers encouraged all three to take risks:

"The Englishmen (Hawthorn and Collins) had an agreement," she says. "Whichever of them won, they would share the winnings equally. It was the two of them against Luigi, who was not part of the agreement. Strength comes in numbers, and they were united against him. This antagonism was actually favourable rather than damaging to Ferrari. The faster the drivers went, the more likely it was that a Ferrari would win." [5]

Racing record[edit]

Complete World Drivers Championship results[edit]

(key; * shared drive)

YearEntrantChassisEngine1234567891011WDCPoints
1952HW MotorsHWM 52AltaSUI
Ret
500BEL
Ret
FRA
6
GBR
Ret
GER
DNS
NEDITA
DNQ
NC0
1953HW MotorsHWM 53AltaARG500NED
8
BEL
Ret
FRA
13
GBR
Ret
GERSUIITANC0
1954G A VandervellVanwall SpecialVanwallARG500BELFRAGBR
Ret
GERSUIITA
7
ESP
DNS
NC0
1955Owen Racing OrganisationMaserati 250FMaseratiARGMON500BELNEDGBR
Ret
NC0
Officine Alfieri MaseratiMaserati 250FMaseratiITA
Ret
1956Scuderia FerrariFerrari 555FerrariARG
Ret
3rd25
Lancia-Ferrari D50FerrariMON
2*
500BEL
1
FRA
1
GBR
2 *
GER
Ret *
ITA
2 *
1957Scuderia FerrariLancia-Ferrari D50FerrariARG
6 *
9th8
Ferrari 801FerrariMON
Ret
500FRA
3
GBR
4 *
GER
3
PESITA
Ret
1958Scuderia FerrariFerrari Dino 246FerrariARG
Ret
MON
3
NED
Ret
500BEL
Ret
FRA
5
GBR
1
GER
Ret
PORITAMOR5th14

Non-Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

YearEntrantChassisEngine123456789101112131415161718192021
1952HW MotorsHWM 52AltaRIOSYRVALRICLAVPAU
Ret
IBSMAR
Ret
ASTINT
9
ELÄNAPEIFPAR
Ret
ALBFROULSMNZLACESSMAR
Ret
SAB
2
CAEDAICOM
Ret
NATBAU
4
MODCAD
Ret
SKAMADAVUJOENEWRIO
1953HW MotorsHWM 52AltaSYRPAULAVASTBORINT
11
ELÄNAPULS
Ret
WINFROCOR
7
EIF
3
ALBPRIGREESSMIDROUSTRCRYAVUUSFLAC
Ret
DREBRICHESAB
NC
NEWCADSACREDSKALONMODMADBERJOECUR
1954R.R.C.Walker Racing TeamConnaught Type ALea-Francis Straight-4SYRPAULAVBORINTBARCURROMFROCORBRCCRY
2
ROUCAEAUGCOROUL
Vandervell Products Ltd.VanwallVanwall I4RED
DNA
PESSACJOECADBERGOO
2
DAI
1955Owen Racing OrganisationMaserati 250FMaserati Straight-6NZLBUEVALPAUGLOBORINT
1
NAPALBCURCOR
DNA
LONDARRED
DNA
AVO
Ret
SYR
BRM P25BRM I4DAT
DNS
OUT
Ret
1956Scuderia FerrariFerrari 555FerrariBUE
5
GLV
Lancia D50Lancia V8SYR
3
AININT
Ret
NAP100VNWCAESUSBRH
1957Scuderia FerrariLancia D50Lancia V8BUE
3
SYR
1
PAUGLVNAP
1
RMS
Ret
CAEINT
Ferrari Dino 246Ferrari V6MOD
4
MOR
Ret
1958Scuderia FerrariFerrari Dino 246Ferrari V6BUEGLVSYRAININT
1
CAE

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://plus.autosport.com/premium/feature/3623/
  2. ^ Peter Collins Asked Me To Marry Him The Shuttle, 7 August 2008
  3. ^ Williams, Richard, Richard Williams Talks to Fiamma Breschi, the Woman Behind Enzo Ferrari, The Guardian, 22 January 2004
  4. ^ On this circuit the Dino probably was marginally, although through the 1958 season the Dino 246 generally was more powerful and stable with a team capable of preparing 2 good cars, cf Vanwall 1/3. Moss commented after his retirement that the Vanwall should have been the better car at Silverstone but clearly it wasn't but then Stirling, like the later Jackie Stewart, never gave an inch to his serious rivals in race tactics or post-race comment
  5. ^ Williams, Richard, Richard Williams Talks to Fiamma Breschi, the Woman Behind Enzo Ferrari, The Guardian, 22 January 2004

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Luigi Musso
Formula One fatal accidents
August 3, 1958
Succeeded by
Stuart Lewis-Evans
Sporting positions
Preceded by
José Froilán González
BRDC International Trophy winner
1955
Succeeded by
Stirling Moss
Preceded by
Jean Behra
BRDC International Trophy winner
1958
Succeeded by
Jack Brabham