Saturday, January 22

The fucking careers of Michael Hawthorn


  • The British pilot died in an accident near his home just three months after he was proclaimed F-1 world champion in 1958.

  • Sick, he grew tired of losing friends on the track and was discouraged when he was involved in the Le Mans accident that caused 90 deaths in 1955.

TO Enzo Ferrari He was never overly concerned about the origin of his pilots. In his country, where the team he founded in the 1940s would soon become a national symbol, he was under pressure to put only Italians at the wheel of his Formula One cars. But that did not disturb him when he first saw Michael Hawthorn. He was a 22-year-old Englishman who had started racing for the team that his father, who owns a mechanical workshop, had assembled for him.

He was ambitious and aggressive, just what ‘Il commendatore’ wanted and had a personal appeal that made him different from what fans were used to seeing. The pilots were usually distant people who seemed in constant conflict with themselves. EspinoThe son of a modest entrepreneur, he was the opposite. He smiled all the time, he was a joker, a good talker, he liked the good life and he was attractive to fans who wanted their heroes to be accessible people as well. Then when he got into the car, with the bow tie that he always wore on race days, he brought out the genius and aggressiveness that Ferrari he asked his own.

The beginning of 1952

That is why he signed him at the end of 1952 to compete in the same team as the first Italian legends such as Flour, Ascari OR Villoresi. “Well beat him,” the boss told his pilots when they showed some misgivings about hiring a British man. Ferrari He always fueled the rivalry between his own drivers as the driving force behind his team. He was not concerned that they would get along better or worse, he even considered that this was an indispensable food for things to work for the manufacturer.

In his debut in the Italian team Espino He finished the World Championship in fourth position, a great result for a rookie in the team, also adding in France the first victory of his life in the highest category of motorsport. In the following season he rose one place in the general classification and finished third in a World Cup that would sweep away Juan Manuel Fangio but in which the British had really bad luck because mechanical problems played bad tricks on him and prevented him from being closer to the Argentine in the general classification.

His dad’s death

Then something happened that I didn’t count on Ferrari. Suddenly lost to Espino because of the death of his father in a car accident. Michael He had promised to drive British cars again and did not wait to immediately keep his word. In addition, that allowed him to more easily take over the family business that was now in his hands. He continued in the World Cup, but he did it running for different teams almost always at the controls of a Jaguar while the old man Enzo Ferrari I was still waiting for him.

Espino He suffered the first major setback of his life on the day he achieved one of the most prestigious victories of his career at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955 when he was involved in the most serious accident in the history of motorsport. The Englishman, who was fighting for victory with Fangio, made a sharp braking to stop in the pits just after overtaking a bent driver who, surprised, swerved to the left without realizing that the Mercedes of Pierre Levegh Y Fangio. The Argentine stopped in time but the Frenchman touched the car in front of him and his car was fired like a rocket against the fence that delimited the track. Various parts of the car broke off and projected like missiles in the direction of the fans. The result was atrocious: 90 deaths, many of them children.

The crisis after the French event

The race did not stop, among other reasons because the authorities did not want the departure of the fans to complicate the work of the ambulances that took the hundreds of injured people caused by the accident. Espino won the race with Good and on the podium he outlined a smile that the French press took advantage of to charge with great harshness against him, although he was later exonerated of any responsibility. His maneuvering was abrupt, but not reckless, much less reckless.

It was difficult for the Englishman to accept that event. His results plummeted and he came very close to dropping out of racing and locking himself in his father’s mechanical workshop forever. The point is that in those years death was part of Formula One racing. Speeds were getting higher and safety, minimal. For both the pilots and the spectators. Few would understand it faster than those responsible for Ferrari who would live a few tragic years from that moment. Late 1956 Espino He returns to the Italian team unable to resist the insistence of the old boss any longer.

Friendship with Peter Collins

He does it just one year after another Englishman arrives on the team: Peter collins. Both become inseparable friends, something that was not in the plans of Enzo Ferrari that he continued to take care of the internal rivalry “for the good of the team.” He was charmed by the British for their lightheartedness and daring behind the wheel, but it puzzled him that they almost enjoyed it more when it was the other who won. Together they digested the tragedies that were happening in the team. Ferrari lost in different accidents in 1957 to Castellotti already Alfonso of Portago and a year later it was Luis Musso who passed away while trying to set the best time at the Modena test circuit, an old pending account that Ferrari and Masseratti had.

At that time Espino it was clear to him that 1958 would be his last season in Formula One. In addition, he had a congenital kidney problem, which he hid so as not to lose his driver’s license, which caused him significant pain and gave him a minimal life expectancy. It was a secret known only to him and his personal physician. His fiancĂ©e knew of his complaints, of the days when he was weak and pale as a blank page, but she did not know the true extent of his ailment.

An almost personal matter

Did not imagine Espino that the 1958 World Cup would eventually become an almost personal matter. It happened after the race on the hellish old Nurburgring circuit with its 180 turns per lap. There the two English Ferrari drivers fought for the first position (they came from dividing the victories in France and England) and suddenly Collins went long on a stop. Espino He lost sight of him but imagined that he would reappear, skidding across the grass. His partner never came back. The car gave several turns of bell and the lack of protections did the rest. Collins he was added to the tragic list of deceased of those years and left his friend completely devastated.

He only kept getting into the car out of the desire to win the World Cup that they both dreamed of in their conversations. As if it were a debt that he had to pay off before leaving that world forever. After each test he would repeat the same phrase: “Another damn race that I won’t have to do anymore.” He achieved second place in Portugal, in Italy and reached the last race in Morocco knowing that he was worth second place to be world champion. Sterling ross I needed the victory, the fastest lap (which gave an extra point) and that Espino was at most third. Ross He did what he had to, but the Ferrari driver achieved second place to become the first Briton in history to be proclaimed world champion.

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The last months of life

He did not celebrate, he got on the plane back home and left Ferrari and the World Cup as he had promised. Only three months later he left home in his Jaguar on his way to London where he had arranged to have lunch with the widow of Collins. On the road he found his friend’s car Rob walker, son of Johnnie walker, the famous owner of the whiskey factory. He decided to speed up and go for it. He pulled up parallel to his Mercedes and hit the gas fully. Walker, who always denied that they were competing, explained that after a few meters he saw Espino lose control of the car and run off the road violently. When he reached the mass of iron to which the car was reduced, it was already dead. No one had enjoyed a title for such a short time or the freedom that dropping out of racing had meant.


www.elperiodico.com

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