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Mike Hawthorn: Britain's first champion

Discussion about: Mike Hawthorn: Britain's first champion
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A few days ago, it was the 60th anniversary of Mike Hawthorn's death. Hawthorn was the first ever British F1 champion, but his story is one of great tragedy.

He make his debut in F1 in 1952 with Cooper. He moved to Ferrari in 1953 and won the French Grand Prix ahead of one of the greatest drivers ever, Juan Manuel Fangio. He won another race in 1954, and came 3rd.

In 1955, his father died and he only competed in 5 races. He won the 24hrs of Le Mans that year but the main news was the horrific crash that he was involved in that killed Mercedes driver Pierre Levegh and 80 spectators.

In 1957 he returned to Ferrari and was leading the German Grand Prix until Fangio took what many consider was his greatest and final win, making up 50 seconds to past the two Ferraris, breaking the lap record 10 times.

1958 saw Fangio only compete in 2 races. Hawthorn and Stirling Moss dueled for the title. Hawthorn won only once but took five second places. Moss took four wins but suffered quite a few car failures. The championship battle didn't cloud Moss's mind however: he verified that Hawthorn didn't receive a lush start in Portugal and stopped him from being disqualified. Both drivers suffered loss. Hawthorn's team mate and close friend Peter Collins was killed in a crash in the German Grand Prix, while Moss's friend Stuart Lewis-Evens died due to burns he obtained in the Moroccan Grand Prix.

At the end of the year, Hawthorn won the championship by one point from Moss. He was offered a drive for 1959 but with the passing of his close friend he decided to retire. Due to a medical condition, he wouldn't have lived for much longer, but the final tragedy struck in January 1959 - Hawthorn spun and crashed into a tree while driving. He was killed, but he is still remembered to this day.
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Oh yeah, I forgot it was 60 years this year. Thank you for reminding me about this and it is a very sad story.