Bengt Ronnie Peterson (born February 14, 1944 in Örebro, Sweden - died September 11, 1978 in Milan, Italy) was a Swedish Formula One driver. He was a two time runner-up in the Formula One championship.
He remains one of only two people to posthumously finish runner up in the championship, the other being Wolfgang von Trips.
Formula One Career
Before Formula One
Now on the factory March team, Peterson became the second person to finish runner-up without winning a single race, as he was 29 points behind Jackie Stewart who had won 6 of the 11 races on the calendar. His toughest defeat was to Peter Gethin in the Italian Grand Prix. Gethin pipped Peterson to the post by 0.01 seconds to deny the Swede his first win of his career.
Peterson stayed on at March for 1972, but Niki Lauda had moved to the team full-time after his one-off drive at the 1971 Austrian Grand Prix. The Marches were off the pace this season, and 12 points and a third place at Germany were the best he could manage. He was disqualified from a potential second place in Canada for receiving outside assistance after a spin.
Peterson moved to Lotus, alongside 1972 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi. He took his first victory at the French Grand Prix, and ultimately won four races to finish third behind Jackie Stewart and Fittipaldi in the championship. His relationship with Fittipaldi started out as cordial but deteriorated over time. At Monza, where Fittipaldi needed a victory to defend his title against Stewart, Peterson refused to let him by, and took the win by less than a second, sealing the championship for Stewart. Peterson and Fittipaldi rarely spoke again, and after the season Fittipaldi left Lotus for McLaren.
In the 1978 Italian Grand Prix, Peterson had qualified for 5th position on the grid. After the formation lap, drivers were arriving at the grid when the race starter began that race before the drivers were ready.
As a result, some of the drivers were already rolling to the grid when the race started. Peterson had a poor start because he was completely stopped at the grid. He was passed Alan Jones, Jacques Laffite and John Watson right off of the start.
Riccardo Patrese moved in front of James Hunt's car. Hunt moved to the left and collided with Peterson, causing a chain reaction. In addition to Hunt and Peterson, drivers Vittorio Brambilla, Carlos Reutemann, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Patrick Depailler, Didier Pironi, Derek Daly, Clay Regazzoni and Brett Lunger were also involved in the accident.
Peterson's car was sent into the barrier and caught fire as it was sent back into the middle of the track. Hunt, Regazzoni and Depailler exited their cars to free Peterson from his car. They managed to free him before he received burns. He was fully conscious, but he suffered major leg injuries.
All of the drivers involved were taken to a nearby hospital. Peterson had suffered 7 fractures in one leg and 3 in his other. Peterson was sent into surgery to have his bones set. During the night, Peterson died of full renal failure caused by a fat embolism.
"Fangio, former world champion, waits to flag the winner. It is of course Andretti, however Fangio mistakes Peterson's black Lotus for Andretti's and gives him the chequered flag." - Harry Carpenter. BBC. 1978 Argentine Grand Prix.
"It was so unfair to have a tragedy connected with probably what should have been the happiest day of my career... I couldn't celebrate, but also, I knew that trophy would be with me forever. And I knew also that Ronnie would have been happy for me." - Mario Andretti
Formula One Statistical Overview
Formula One Record
|Year||Entrant||Team||WDC Pts.||WDC Pos.||Report|
|1970||Antique Automobiles Racing Team||March-Ford Cosworth||0||NC||Report|
|Colin Crabbe Racing|
|1971||STP March Racing Team||March-Ford Cosworth||33||2nd||Report|
|1972||STP March Racing Team||March-Ford Cosworth||12||9th||Report|
|1973||John Player Team Lotus||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||52||3rd||Report|
|1974||John Player Team Lotus||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||35||5th||Report|
|1975||John Player Team Lotus||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||6||13th||Report|
|1976||John Player Team Lotus||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||11||10th||Report|
|March Engineering||March-Ford Cosworth|
|1977||Elf Team Tyrrell||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||7||14th||Report|
|1978||John Player Team Lotus||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||51||2nd||Report|
|Front Row Starts||24|
|Distance Raced||26759 km (16627 mi)|
|Distance Led||3313 km (2059 mi)|
|Complete Formula One results|
|3rd||DNQ||Did not qualify|
|5th||Points finish||DNPQ||Did not pre-qualify|
|14th||Non-points finish||TD||Test driver|
|Italics||Scored point(s) for Fastest Lap||DNS||Did not start|
|†||Classified finish (retired with >90% race distance)||NC||Non-classified finish (<90% race distance)|
|P||Qualified for pole position||[+] More Symbols|
- Race stopped after 29/75 Laps. Half points awarded
- Race stopped after 29/54 Laps. Half points awarded
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