Hawthorn's title in a season of tragedy
Mike Hawthorn pipped Stirling Moss to the title, but his title success was overshadowed by the death of his team-mate and friend, Peter Collins. Mike retired from racing at season's end, only to lose his life in a road accident soon afterwards.
The departure of Maserati was a major blow to the sport, although the cars survived in the hands of privateers. The marque's withdrawal coincided with that of Fangio. He would run just two races in 1958, before calling it a day. Ferrari abandoned the old Lancia-based cars, and had a new model, the 246 Dino, with Hawthorn, Collins and Musso the star drivers. Moss, Brooks and Stuart Lewis-Evans stayed with Vanwall, while John Cooper mounted a serious effort with Brabham and Roy Salvadori. Rob Walker entered a private Cooper-Climax for Trintignant, and Behra and Schell headed a revived BRM effort. The season started off with a surprise in Argentina. Most of the British teams were absent, including Vanwall, so Moss was free to replace Trintignant in Walker's Cooper. He duly won the race in a canny display, although his tyres were worn out by the end.
At Monaco Trintignant was in Walker's car and, amazingly, he scored his second success in the street race. The British success continued at Zandvoort, where Vanwall swept the front row. Moss won, while the BRMs of Schell and Behra finished second and third. Ferrari had been without a win since 1956, but the waiting ended at Reims where Hawthorn scored what would be his only victory of the season. However, there was no celebrating. Team-mate Musso, who had qualified second, was killed in the race. Fangio finished fourth in his last race. At Silverstone it was the turn of Collins to win for Ferrari, with Hawthorn second. A fortnight later tragedy struck again when Collins died in the German Grand Prix. Brooks went on to score a hollow victory.
Moss had retired while leading in Germany, and he gained some revenge at the new event in Portugal, winning from pole position with Hawthorn second. In one of the closest points battles ever, Moss led all the way and set fastest lap in the final race in Casablanca. But, with Brooks blowing up, Hawthorn eased into second, which was all he required to take the crown. It was a terrible day for both Vanwall and Stirling, made worse when Lewis-Evans crashed and later succumbed to his injuries. The only consolation for Vanwall was the inaugural constructors' title. Then, after quitting the sport while at his peak, Hawthorn was killed in a road accident in January. He was just 29 years old.