John Michael Hawthorn, born on April 10, 1929, in Mexborough, Yorkshire, was a British racing driver and the 1958 Formula One World Champion. Known for his dapper style, often sporting a bow tie, Hawthorn’s career in Formula One was marked by both triumph and tragedy.
John Michael Hawthorn, more commonly known as Mike Hawthorn, had a significant but relatively brief career in Formula 1. Here are his detailed statistics:
Early Career: Hawthorn’s journey in motor racing began in 1950 at Brighton, with the support of his father, who owned a garage in Surrey. By 1952, he transitioned to single-seater racing, quickly making a mark by winning two Formula 2 races within five days, one of which was a notable victory over Juan Manuel Fangio. His Formula One debut came at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1952.
Formula One Career: In his first F1 season, Hawthorn impressed with a fourth-place finish in his debut race and a podium at the British Grand Prix. He ended the season fifth in the championship with ten points. The following year, 1953, was even more successful. Now driving for Ferrari, Hawthorn won the French Grand Prix after an intense battle with Fangio and finished the season fourth overall.
1954 saw Hawthorn finish third in the championship, thanks to consistent performances including three second-place finishes and a win in Spain. However, seeking to race for a British team, he left Ferrari in 1955 for Vanwall but struggled with reliability issues.
Le Mans Tragedy: The 1955 season was overshadowed by tragedy. Hawthorn won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Jaguar, but the race was marred by a horrific accident involving Pierre Levegh, resulting in the deaths of 84 spectators. Hawthorn was initially implicated but later exonerated.
Return to Ferrari: After a stint with BRM in 1956 and a return to Ferrari in 1957, Hawthorn consistently performed well, narrowly missing out on victory in the 1957 German Grand Prix to Fangio’s masterful drive.
World Championship and Retirement: In 1958, with Fangio retired, Hawthorn was a title contender alongside Stirling Moss. While Moss won four races, Hawthorn’s consistent finishes, including a victory in France and five second-place finishes, earned him the world championship by just one point. He then decided to retire from racing.
Tragic Death: Tragically, on January 22, 1959, Hawthorn died in a road accident in Surrey. While overtaking Rob Walker’s car, he lost control of his Jaguar in wet conditions, crashed, and succumbed to his injuries. Hawthorn’s death, coming so soon after his championship victory, was a profound loss to the world of motorsport.
Hawthorn’s career, though brief, left a lasting legacy in Formula One, remembered for his skill, style, and the dramatic highs and lows that defined his time in the sport.