Superswede's 1969 Monaco WinnerBy: BonhamsComment Ronnie Peterson's Career-Launching Formula 3 Car to be offered at Bonhams Monaco Sale
The legendary Swedish racing driver Ronnie Peterson, so affectionately nicknamed 'SuperSwede' was one of the most universally loved figures in 1970s Formula 1. He was regarded - even by triple-World Champion Jackie Stewart - as the fastest Grand Prix driver of his time. He contested 123 World Championship-qualifying Grand Prix races during his career, leading many until his over-stressed cars failed, and winning ten of them. He twice finished second in the Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship.
Now the schoolroom class Formula 3 car in which he won the Monaco Grand Prix supporting race in 1969 – the car that announced his arrival upon the world-class stage- is to be offered at Bonhams Monaco Sale on 11 May. It is his Swedish-yellow liveried 1969 Tecno (€80,000-120,000) in which he won not only the F3 Monaco Grand Prix, but also numerous other races through that 1969 season.
Tall, husky and good looking, Ronnie Peterson became a star driver whose relaxed, retiring and friendly demeanour harked back to his revered predecessor as the standard-setting racing driver of his era - double-World Champion Jim Clark. Ronnie became famed for his humility and soft-spoken charm. He cut a striking figure both on and off the track, and he and his beautiful wife, Barbro, were truly a golden couple of that motor racing heyday.
The son of a motor racing enthusiast father, living in Orebro, Sweden, Ronnie Peterson began his racing career in karting, and rapidly demanded attention as a star in the making. He first entered 1-litre Formula 3 racing in the Svebe, a car which he co-designed and built with his father, copying a contemporary Brabham design. He then drove the Italian-made Tecno, now offered by Bonhams at Monaco, to no fewer than sixteen race wins through the 1969 season, the Monaco victory focusing Formula 1 team attention upon the blond new boy from the north.
By 1970, Ronnie Peterson was elevated to Formula 1 - initially driving a privately-entered March-Cosworth 701 - but in 1971 he became the March F1 team leader, finishing second in no fewer than five Formula 1 Grand Prix races to end the year as runner-up to Jackie Stewart in the World Championship table. Joining John Player Team Lotus, Ronnie Peterson then confirmed his 'Superswede' nickname, winning eight Grands Prix from 1973-76. After a time with Tyrrell he then returned to John Player Team Lotus in 1978, agreeing to support established team veteran Mario Andretti in the Italian-American's quest for the World Championship title.
Ronnie Peterson still won both the South African and Austrian GPs, and finished second in the Belgian, Spanish, French and Dutch GPs, but an accident, entirely beyond his control, at the start of the 1978 Italian race at Monza would lead to an appalling series of events resulting in poor Peterson losing his life in a Milan hospital. His family, many friends and the entire Formula 1 world - shocked and shattered - deeply mourned their gentle giant.
Bonhams Co-Chairman Robert Brooks commented: 'Ronnie Peterson was both quietly engaging off track, and an absolutely pace-setting rumbustious demon upon it. In period, I was a great fan and his daughter, Nina's, decision to entrust Bonhams with this 1969 Tecno in which he launched his glittering career upon the global stage, is really special to us. To be offering this car at the very location where Ronnie scored that momentous attention-grabbing victory with it is extra special. After so many years' preservation in Sweden, 'Ronnie's Tecno' is one of those most rare motor racing pieces - a truly iconic car which was not only a 16-race winner, it also launched the career of a much-loved legend and will forever be associated with him.'