John Michael Hawthorn (10 April 1929 – 22 January 1959) was a racing driver, born in Mexborough, Yorkshire, England, and educated at Ardingly College, West Sussex.
Mike Hawthorn made his competition debut driving his 1934 Riley Ulster Imp, KV 9475, winning the 1,100 c.c. sports car class at the Brighton Speed Trials on 2 September 1950. In 1951, driving a 1½-litre T.T. Riley, he entered the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy, a season-long contest run at Goodwood, winning it by one point. He also won the Ulster Trophy Handicap at Dundrod and the Leinster Trophy at Wicklow that year.
In 1955, Hawthorn was the winner of the 24 hours of Le Mans race, despite being involved in the terrible crash that killed 83 spectators and fellow racer Pierre Levegh. In 1957, Hawthorn joined the Ferrari factory team, and soon became friends with Peter Collins, a fellow Englishman and Ferrari team driver. During the 1958 racing season, the two Englishmen became engaged in a rivalry with Luigi Musso, another Ferrari driver, that spurred all three in a fierce competition for prize money. Hawthorn was the winner of the fateful 1958 French Grand Prix at Rheims, in which Musso was killed while holding second place. Stirling Moss, driving for Vanwall, eventually took second place in the race, with Collins coming in fifth.  Hawthorn drove his Ferrari at the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix. Hawthorn was the winner of the 1958 Championship. With only one win that year against four wins of Stirling Moss, he benefited greatly from the gentlemanliness of Moss as shown at the Portuguese Grand Prix at Porto. Hawthorn was disqualified for pushing his car, against the rules, on the way to a second place finish. Moss interceded on Hawthorn's behalf and the decision was ultimately reversed. Those second place points at Porto contributed to Hawthorn winning the championship with a season total just one point more than that of Moss.
After winning the title, Hawthorn immediately announced his retirement from Formula One, having been badly affected by the death of his close friend and Ferrari team mate Peter Collins in that year's German Grand Prix.
Rivalry with Luigi Musso
Many years after the death of Mike Hawthorn, Fiamma Breschi, Luigi Musso's girlfriend at the time of his death, revealed the nature of Musso's rivalry with fellow Ferrari drivers Mike Hawthorn and Collins in a television documentary, The Secret Life of Enzo Ferrari. Breschi recalled that the antagonism between Musso and the two English drivers, encouraged all three to take more 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." Breschi related that Musso was in debt at the time of his death, and the money for winning the 1958 French Grand Prix (traditionally the largest monetary prize of the season), was all-important to him.
After visiting the mortally-wounded Musso in hospital, Breschi returned to her hotel, where she and the rest of the Ferrari team were informed by the team manager that afternoon that Musso had died. By the end of that year Collins and Hawthorn were also dead, and Breschi could not suppress a feeling of release. "I had hated them both," she said, "first because I was aware of certain facts that were not right, and also because when I came out of the hospital and went back to the hotel, I found them in the square outside the hotel, laughing and playing a game of football with an empty beer can. So when they died, too, it was liberating for me. Otherwise I would have had unpleasant feelings towards them forever. This way I could find a sense of peace."
Hawthorn had previously lost a kidney to infection and began suffering problems with his remaining kidney in 1955. He was expected at the time to live only a few more years.
A matter of only months into his retirement, on 22 January 1959, Hawthorn died in a road accident on the A3 bypass near Guildford driving his British Racing Green highly tuned Jaguar 3.4-litre sedan (now known as the 3.4 Mk 1). The cause of the accident is still unknown, suggested causes being driver error, mechanical failure, or blackout. There is evidence that Hawthorn had recently suffered blackouts, perhaps because of kidney failure, that might well have caused the accident.
In Farnham, the town where he lived up to the time of his death, there is a street named Mike Hawthorn Drive (off Dogflud Way). It was also in this town that Hawthorn ran The Tourist Trophy Garage. Jaguars, Rileys, Fiats, and Ferraris were serviced and sold from there.
There is a corner named after him at the Croft racing circuit, at Croft on Tees in North Yorkshire.
Hawthorn Memorial Trophy
The Hawthorn Memorial Trophy has been awarded to the most successful British or Commonwealth F1 driver every year since 1959.
List of winners
That season's World Champion is in bold.
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