Ronnie Peterson

Barbro Edwardsson, Peterson’s widow, could never come to terms with his death and committed suicide on Dec 19, 1987. |  Peterson and Edwardsson are survived by daughter Nina Louise. |  Peterson has a mammoth 123 Grand Prix races to his credit.


Name: Ronnie Peterson
DOB: Feb 14 1944
Place Of Birth: Örebro
Nationality: Swedish
Most Races For: Lotus - 59
No. Of Races: 123
Ronnie Peterson

Perhaps ‘Cupid’ is what comes to our minds when we talk about February 14, though it is unlikely to be so for a Formula One fanatic. It is probably a pair of aviator glasses donned below blond flicks of hair dancing in thin air that made Ronnie Peterson’s presence even in a speeding car obvious.

Known for his aggressive driving, Peterson was born on February 14, 1944, in Orebro, Sweden. Starting humbly with racing karts, Peterson’s father designed a 1-liter engine based on one of the Brabham engines with some help from his son. They used this engine as a ticket to racing in Formula Three. They drew attention from an Italian company called Tecno in 1968 and he managed to win the 1969 Formula Three Championship. He also won races in the Formula Two championships and F1 was all ready for him to drive in.

Antique Automobile Racing team hired Peterson in 1970 for the Monaco Grand Prix. Showing a lot of guile, he managed to drive the March 701 car seventh past the chequered flag. The next year, he graduated to the full March racing team and his for five times he finished second which earned him the runner-up position in the championship. He continued racing for March till 1972 with satisfactory results.
In 1973, he won his first Grand Prix in France. He was now racing for the John Player Team Lotus. Three victories in Austria, Italy and in the United States affirmed his third place in the Drivers’ Championship. The 72F car that saw him through the 1973 season, reassured Peterson of it’s worth in 1974, when he won three races again.
Switching to Lotus 76 in 1975 proved to be a wrong move for him as he did not manage any podium finishes that season. After driving the Lotus 77 in the first two races of the 1976 season, he rejoined the March team and won the Italian Grand Prix. However, he could only finish 11th that season.

There has always been a trend among F1 drivers to keep hopping from team to team in the mid-season or at the start since the sport’s existence and Peterson was no exception to it. In 1977, he joined the Tyrrell team and won only the Belgian Grand Prix that season. Unsurprisingly he moved to The John Player Lotus team yet again in 1978. Clocking fastest laps came naturally to Peterson this season and his fierce competition with teammate Mario Andretti produced many heart-stopping races, like the ones in Austria and South Africa where he registered victories. He also finished on the podium five times with four second place finishes.

In a grave shock to the sporting world, the Swede died in an accident at the Italian Grand Prix in 1978; this was the same season in which he had raced so diligently towards the championship title. The qualifying session which preceded the Italian Grand Prix had not started too well for Peterson when he damaged his car and suffered minor leg injuries. However, at the start of the Italian Grand Prix he was involved in an accident entangling about half a dozen other cars. Further on, he went crashing into the barriers before his car caught fire. He breathed his last in the hospital the following day on the 11th of September 1978.

Many issues were raised after his tragic death; some blamed the race starter, who allegedly turned the racing light green before time, others passed the buck and blamed a battery of officials. But soon the issues settled down like the quietness after a storm. What could still be heard was the faint humming of Peterson’s car at the back of many minds.

-Anup Pareek

  • GPs
YearTeamClaGPs WinsPolesPods FLsPts
1976Lotus, March11th16111110
Total 1231014269206

Ronnie Peterson - HEAD TO HEAD (TEAM-MATES)

Ronnie Peterson - Season Performance

According to stats...

  • Barbro Edwardsson, Peterson’s widow, could never come to terms with his death and committed suicide on Dec 19, 1987.
  • Peterson and Edwardsson are survived by daughter Nina Louise.
  • Peterson has a mammoth 123 Grand Prix races to his credit.


“I couldn’t celebrate, but also, knew that trophy would be with me forever. And I knew also that Ronnie would have been happy for me.”
-Mario Andretti, after winning the 1978 championship.


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