Peter Collins, first ever British World Champion

Posted: 24/04/2010 in Formula 1

Now your all probably reading this and wondering  “Wait a minute, Mike Hawthorn was the first British World champion in 1958 blah blah blah……” But in fact if you read back to 1956 in Formula 1 books you would find out that a young man named Peter Collins had the world title in both hands ready to win, but instead he handed it over to the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio beating him and Stirling Moss for the title.

1956 Italian Grand Prix:

The final race of the 1956 season had Fangio 8 points clear of his team-mate Peter Collins and Jean Behra who was driving for Maserati. Fangio only needed to finish the race and hope that both Collins or Behra would not win the race and set the fastest lap handing either one the title. Fangio had to retire his car with a broken steering arm on lap 19 but lucky for him Behra also had to retire a few laps later, the only problem was his team-mate Peter Collins was still out there leading the race not having any problems. Ferrari tried to order Luigi Musso to give his car to Fangio to continue, he refused. Fangio’s chances to be the first triple consecutive world champion and first 4 time WDC was falling around him before his eyes, with Peter Collins ready to take the chance for his first word title. Moss, Collins and Musso were the front-runners coming towards the end and would surely set a fastest lap with the speed they were going at, eventually Musso retired with broken steering leaving both Collins and Moss the most likely victors. Collins was in 3rd at the time and came into the pits to change his tyres ready to continue, but he jumped out of his car instead and gave it to Fangio to finish the race, splitting the points evenly even though he didn’t have to. At the end of the race Fangio finished behind Moss to claim second and to win the 1956 WDC in front of Moss, Collins went down to 3rd place for the 1956 season.

This is what Peter Collins said after the race to the press: “All I could think of out there was that if I won the race and the championship I would become and instant celebrity. I would have a position to live up to. people would make demands of me. I would be expected at all times to act like “The Champion”. Driving would not be fun any more. I wanted things to go as they were, so I handed my car over to Fangio. I would nat have been proud of beating him through his bad luck I am 25 years old and have plenty of time to win the championship on my own. Fangio deserves it anyway.”

Peter Collins died 2 years later at the Nurburgring Grand Prix………..

What should of been:

Youngest Formula 1 world champion aged: 24 years and 300 days old, Until Fernando Alonso beat it in 2005.

First ever British world champion in 1956.

Juan Manuel Fangio, 4 times world champion.

  1. […] rest is here: Peter Collins, first ever British WDC « F1 SILVER ARROWS Share and […]

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