Peter John Collins, born on November 6, 1931, in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, was a rising star in the world of Formula 1 racing. His journey into motorsport began in 1952 with a modest HWM team. Despite humble beginnings, Collins showed potential early in his career, especially in Formula 2 races. He made his mark in the 1953 Eifelrennen F2 race with a third-place finish and claimed his first victory in sports cars at the International Trophy with Aston Martin.
In 1954, Collins shifted his focus from Formula 2 to Formula 1, joining Vanwall. Although he didn’t make significant strides in the championship, he secured second-place finishes at Crystal Palace and Goodwood in non-championship events. 1955 was a challenging year in F1 for Collins, driving a Maserati 250F, but he found success in sports car racing, including a second-place finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and victories in the International Trophy and Targa Florio.
The turning point in Collins’ career came in 1956 when he was signed by Enzo Ferrari. Paired with legendary driver Juan Manuel Fangio, Collins achieved impressive results: two consecutive victories in Belgium and France, second places in Monaco and Great Britain, and another second-place finish at Le Mans with Aston Martin. The season’s climax saw Collins in a position to win the World Championship, but in a remarkable act of sportsmanship, he handed his car to Fangio during the final race, enabling Fangio to clinch his fourth title.
Collins’ 1957 season didn’t live up to expectations, overshadowed by Fangio’s brilliance. However, he won non-championship events in Syracuse and Naples. In 1958, he won the 12 Hours of Sebring and the International Trophy in F2. He added a third-place finish in Monaco and a victory at the British Grand Prix to his achievements. Sadly, his life and promising career were cut short at the 1958 German Grand Prix, where he suffered a fatal accident while leading the race.