The unexpected rise of the British champion who in 1953 became the youngest driver to win an F1 race
Hawthorn was 24 when he joined Scuderia Ferrari and won the first French GP, which made him the youngest winner of a Formula 1 race and the first British driver to do so. In 1958 Ferrari deployed the 246 F1: Hawthorn took third place in Argentina but had to retire in Monaco due to a broken fuel pump.
The Dutch GP victory went to Stirling Moss in the Vanwall, and Hawthorn placed fifth. The British team continued its domination in Belgium thanks to Tony Brooks, with Hawthorn taking a hard-fought second place. The next race, the French Grand Prix, saw Mike Hawthorn's first and only seasonal victory. He crossed the finish line ahead of Moss and the other Ferrari driven by Wolfgang Von Trips. In Great Britain, Scuderia Ferrari did it again with Collins triumphing a mere seconds ahead of Hawthorn.
The Vanwalls of Brooks and Moss scooped up the last five races of the season but when the season closed, paradoxically, the World Drivers' Championship title went to Hawthorn by just one point over Moss. The British Scuderia Ferrari driver triumphed thanks to five second places and five fastest laps, which at the time were worth a point. In contrast, Moss had four wins but had also retired five times.
Ferrari’s return to the top was marred by three serious bereavements, however. At Reims, Luigi Musso succumbed to injuries suffered after leaving the track at the Curve du Calvaire and in Germany, the same fate befell Peter Collins. The British racing driver died on the way to the hospital after his car somersaulted several times before colliding with a tree.
The irony is that Hawthorn also died in a road accident near London immediately following his retirement from racing just a few weeks after winning the world championship.