- September 11 down the years
F1 world left shocked by death of Ronnie PetersonWhat happened on this day in Formula One history?
The world of F1 was left in shock when it was announced the popular Swede Ronnie Peterson had died as a result of complications following his accident during the first corner pile-up at the start of the previous day's Italian Grand Prix. As the cars hurtled towards the first corner, Riccardo Patrese had collided with James Hunt, setting off a chain-reaction that launched Peterson's Lotus into the barriers, tearing it in half before it burst into flames. Hunt ran back and braved the flames to drag Peterson clear of the wreck. As Peterson lay on the track fully conscious but with broken legs, it took 20 minutes for medical aid to come, and when it did the priority was Vittorio Brambilla who had been hit on the head by a flying wheel. Peterson, whose injuries were not considered life threatening, was taken to hospital and operated on that evening. But a bone marrow embolism entered his bloodstream, and he died the following morning. Had he received medical attention more promptly he would probably have survived.
Gerhard Berger led home Michele Alboreto for a timely Ferrari 1-2 at the Italian Grand Prix as McLaren failed to win for the only time in the season. As usual, the two McLarens lined up on the front row with Ayrton Senna on pole, the Ferrari duo behind. The order did not change until Prost uncharacteristically retired with an engine failure on lap 35, leaving Senna to close in on another easy victory in the closing laps. But coming up to lap Jean-Louis Schlesser's Williams, Senna left the Frenchman with precious little space and the pair collided, leaving the Brazilian beached and out of the race.
The Italian Grand Prix marked the last race for the old Lotus team before the famous name appeared on the grid again for the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix. Jonny Herbert did his best to give the team a good send off by qualifying an amazing fourth on the grid before an engine failure put paid to his chances. Damon Hill led home Gerhard Berger and Mika Hakkinen, and Lotus went into receivership the following day.
Kimi Raikkonen won the Belgian Grand Prix in dominant fashion from Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button to keep alive his very slim chances in the championship. Raikkonen's chances would have been improved had team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya not collided with Raikkonen while running second four laps from the finish. The result meant that Alonso still led the drivers' championship by 25 points with only four races remaining.
Nelson Piquet won the Italian Grand Prix from Rene Arnoux and Eddie Cheever as Riccardo Patrese's challenge for the race win ended with a blown engine. Victory closed the gap between third placed Piquet and second placed Arnoux to just three points in the standings and just five points to leader Alain Prost.
Juan-Manuel Fangio led home Piero Taruffi for a Mercedes 1-2 to put the crowning glory on his championship season. Notably, it turned out to be the last Grand Prix for the victorious Mercedes-Benz team and the next time a fully-owned Silver Arrows team appeared was in 2010, after their takeover of Brawn Grand Prix. It was also the last Grand Prix for Karl Kling, Roberto Mieres and 1950 Champion Nino Farina.