Ronnie Peterson


  • Örebro, Sweden Place of Birth
  • 14 February 1944 Date of Birth
  • 1970 Monaco Grand Prix F1 Debut
  • Team Lotus Current/Last Team

Ronnie Peterson was an impressive talent who met a tragic end too early in his career, having secured a second-place finish in the drivers’ world championship during only his second F1 season.

BornBengt Ronnie Peterson
14 February 1944
Örebro, Sweden
Died11 September 1978 (aged 34)
Milan, Italy

Initially advancing from karting, Peterson ascended to Formula Three, clinching the Swedish championship in 1968. He progressed to the European series the following year, drawing Formula One’s attention by securing a victory in Monaco.

In 1970, Peterson undertook a dual campaign in Formula Two and selected Formula One races. Though this year brought modest results, his perseverance paid off with a works drive for March in 1971.

Despite not winning a race that year, four second-place finishes propelled him to second in the championship standings behind the formidable Jackie Stewart. He also competed in Formula Two, where he captured four victories and the championship title.

March’s 1972 season was less successful with the problematic 721X chassis, which Peterson raced only three times before switching to the more competitive 721G. His performance in this car, especially a commendable third at the Nurburgring Nordschleife, impressed Lotus team owner Colin Chapman, who offered Peterson a seat for 1973 alongside reigning champion Emerson Fittipaldi. Despite a rocky start to the season, Peterson rebounded to secure seven podiums, including four victories, with his initial win at Paul Ricard marking a significant breakthrough.

However, he couldn’t clinch the championship, as Stewart edged out the Lotus duo. Fittipaldi, feeling overshadowed by his new teammate, departed for McLaren at the end of that season.

Peterson then became the lead driver for Chapman’s innovative designs, though this role didn’t fully align with his strengths. He managed three wins with the ageing 72 models in 1974, but the new 76 models proved challenging. The team continued with the 72 for another year in 1975, but Peterson struggled and did not achieve any podium finishes, prompting him to consider other options.

In 1976, he rejoined March after a collision with new teammate Mario Andretti at the season opener in Interlagos. Impressively, he drove the 761 chassis to a victory at Monza and planned a move to Tyrrell in 1977.

Despite the challenges of the unconventional six-wheeled P34, Peterson achieved a podium finish with it at Zolder. A return to Lotus was arranged for 1978, albeit in a supporting role to Andretti.

During Peterson’s absence, Lotus had perfected its ground effect 78 chassis. The team was dominant that season, with Peterson winning in South Africa and Austria. As the season reached Monza, Andretti was poised to win the championship.

However, a chaotic start led to a multi-car crash, with Peterson’s car hitting a barrier. He sustained severe leg injuries and awaited an ambulance for about 20 minutes. Despite surgical efforts in Milan, complications from bone marrow entering his bloodstream ultimately led to his untimely death.

Ronnie Peterson Formula One World Championship career

Active years1970–1978
TeamsMarch (inc. non-works), Tyrrell, Lotus
Career points206
Pole positions14
Fastest laps9
First entry1970 Monaco Grand Prix
First win1973 French Grand Prix
Last win1978 Austrian Grand Prix
Last entry1978 Italian Grand Prix

Sources: Wikipedia.com and racefans.net


Driver Nationality Current/Last Team F1 Debut Status
Austrian McLaren 1971 Austrian Grand Prix Died, F1 Legend
Brazilian Fittipaldi 1970 British Grand Prix F1 Legend
Belgian Ligier 1966 German Grand Prix Retired
British McLaren 1973 British Grand Prix Retired
American Ferrari 1968 United States Grand Prix F1 Legend


Team Nationality Debut Season Status
March British 1970 Historic
Tyrrell British 1970 Historic
Team Lotus British 1958 Historic