Ronnie Peterson, the SuperSwede
Ronnie Peterson was a Swedish Formula 1 driver; he is considered one of the fastest drivers of all time. Born on February 14, 1944, in Örebro, Sweden, Peterson began his racing career in the late 1960s and quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the most successful drivers in Formula 1 history.
Peterson developed a love of speed and competition at a young age: he began racing go-karts as a teenager and quickly showed a natural talent for the sport winning the Swedish championship in 1963 and 1964.
The professional racing Career
Peterson’s professional racing career began in 1968 when he entered the Formula 3 championship. He won his first race that year and went on to win several more races over the next few years, establishing himself as a rising star in the world of motorsport. He was crowned Swedish F3 Champion in 1968 and in 1969.
In 1970, Peterson made his debut in Formula 1, driving for the March team. In the following year, scored five podiums and was second in the F1 Championship, becoming European F2 Champion as well.
After a fairly flat 1972 that saw Peterson only once on the podium with March, he moved to the Lotus team in 1973 and became one of their most successful drivers.
He finished third in his very first race, the Monaco Grand Prix, and won his first race later that season in France closing the F1 Championship in third position.
An Iconic Helmet
Ronnie Peterson’s helmet was distinctive and easily recognizable. He wore a bright blue helmet with a large yellow stripe running from the front to the back. The helmet also featured the Swedish flag on the sides, with Peterson’s name written in white letters. The design of Peterson’s helmet was simple yet eye-catching, and it became one of the most iconic helmets in Formula 1 history. Many racing fans still remember and recognize Peterson’s helmet design today, 45 years after his untimely death.
Ronnie Peterson: the racer, the man.
Peterson was known for his friendly personality and good relationships with his teammates, including Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus.
Chapman was impressed by Peterson’s skill and dedication and considered him one of his favorite drivers. Peterson was known for his aggressive driving style and his ability to push his car to its limits. He was also a popular figure among fans and his fellow drivers, who admired his skill and sportsmanship.
However, Peterson’s career was not without its challenges. He was involved in several crashes throughout his career. In particular, the Lotus car that Peterson drove was known for being fast but also difficult to handle and potentially dangerous. Despite this, Peterson continued to push himself and his car to the limit, earning the admiration of his fans and fellow drivers.
Overall, Ronnie Peterson was a talented and beloved driver who left a lasting legacy in the world of motorsport. His speed, skill, and sportsmanship continue to inspire and influence new generations of racing fans and drivers.
Despite his success, Peterson never won the Formula 1 world championship. However, many fans and experts consider him to be one of the greatest drivers of his generation, and some even believe he was the fastest driver ever to compete in Formula 1. His speed, skill, and sportsmanship continue to inspire new generations of drivers and fans alike.
Monza 1978, the end of it all.
Sadly, Peterson’s life was cut short in a tragic accident at the 1978 Italian Grand Prix. At the start of the race, his car was involved in a multi-car collision and burst into flames.
Peterson survived the crash but suffered numerous fractures to his lower limbs and burns, and was transported to Niguarda hospital where surgeons intervened to stabilise them; unfortunately, during the night his condition worsened and he died of a complication, fat embolism.
In the aftermath of the accident, there were also concerns raised about the safety of the Monza circuit and Formula 1 racing in general. The accident prompted a review of safety procedures and led to improvements in track design and safety regulations in the years that followed. Despite these changes, however, the memory of Peterson and the tragic accident that claimed his life remains a sobering reminder of the risks and dangers involved in motorsport. The accident was a tragic loss for the world of motorsport and left fans and fellow drivers mourning the loss of one of the sport’s greatest talents.
“Superswede” the movie
If you want to know more about Peterson you can watch this great Movie, “Superswede” is a documentary film about the life and career of Ronnie Peterson, released in 2017. The film was directed by Henrik Jansson-Schweizer and features interviews with a range of motorsport personalities, including fellow drivers, team owners, and family members of Peterson.
The film covers Peterson’s early life and his rise to prominence in the world of motorsport, including his success in lower formulae and his eventual entry into Formula 1. It also delves into Peterson’s personal life, including his relationships with family and friends, and his love of outdoor activities like fishing and skiing.
One of the key themes of the film is Peterson’s enduring legacy as one of the greatest drivers in the history of Formula 1. The film celebrates his talent, dedication, and competitive spirit, and showcases some of his most memorable moments on the track, including his dramatic victory at the 1978 Austrian Grand Prix.
However, the film also touches on some of the challenges and tragedies that Peterson faced during his career, including his struggles with injuries and the accident at Monza that ultimately claimed his life. The film uses archival footage and interviews with those who knew Peterson best to provide a nuanced and engaging portrait of this legendary driver.
Overall, “Superswede” is a powerful and moving tribute to one of the most beloved and respected figures in the history of motorsport. The film celebrates Peterson’s achievements both on and off the track and provides a fascinating glimpse into the life and legacy of this remarkable athlete.
I also liked this piece from Autosport that you can find here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCcC4-vPdkc&ab_channel=Autosport
Pictures, top to bottom
- Gillfoto, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, Ronnie Peterson March BH - Gillfoto,Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ - Martin Lee, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, Ronnie Peterson - Lotus 79 - 1978 Dutch Grand Prix,