Formula 1

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United Kingdom Peter Walker

Races: 4

1950United Kingdom Peter Walker Era    
1951United Kingdom British Racing Motors BRM    P15 
1955United Kingdom Stirling Moss Ltd Maserati   Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6 250F 
1955United Kingdom Rob Walker Racing Team Connaught   Alta GP 2.5 L4 Connaught B-Type 

By Jeremy McMullen

Today, it costs millions to develop a driver to be able to race at the highest levels. In the fledgling racing circuits, of the early days of motoracing, it was almost a chivalrous act for those with means to go out and brave death behind the wheel of a modern chariot. Those with the talent, but without perhaps all of the means, it took the right connections to find a competitive ride. Obviously there was wide range of talent; from those who do because they can and those who do because another believes in their ability. Peter Walker was one of those who had the talent to not merely compete, but was a threat to win.

Walker was born in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1912. During his twenties, Walker really started showing interest and promise in circuit racing and hillclimbing. Peter's needed connection to make his promise come to fruition was found in Peter Whitehead. Throughout the period before the second world war, Walker could be found racing one of Whitehead's ERAs. His aggressive, sliding style made him a crowd favorite and gained him a certain bit of notoriety.

Although competitive before the war, Walker's aggressive style and experience helped him become even more successful in the late forties. In fact, he was one of the few really able to get the ERA E-type to perform and prove successful (see ERA article). 1948 was one of Walker's best years where he was able to put together some impressive performances both in hillclimbing races but also in grand prix racing.

One of those races Peter competed in during 1948 was the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. This was one of the first races at the former bomber base and was considered the first ever British Grand Prix. An almost permanent fixture today, the grand prix at Silverstone, initially, was supposed to be a one-off kind of event. The air ministry only allowed the event to be held at the base for that one year.

During this race, Peter was one of many who came to the race driving an ERA. However, Walker's drama didn't just come out on the track. In fact, Peter's drama was really trying to get to the track. Peter entered the race technically driving an ERA E-type chassis. Unfortunately, ERA was unable to deliver the chassis in time for the race. This meant Walker ended up starting the event in his own B-type ERA.

Peter started the race from the 8th position. This looked good but was really a gift handed to many of the entrants by Maserati's factory team failing to show up in time for qualifying. However, starting 8th was respectable given the fact Peter was driving a car more than a decade old, and that he beat out many other entrants including such names as Salvadori, Comotti and Rosier.

During the race, Walker survived the massive attrition to finish in 11th place, some 12 laps behind the winner Villoresi. Villoresi's young teammate Ascari came in second and Bob Gerard, in an ERA, driving a brilliant race in an outclassed car, finished third.

In Formula One's first season, Peter was there for the very first race at Silverstone. In fact, Peter was one of the first to be entered for the race. Walker entered his own ERA E-type for the race. Peter demonstrated his ability and out-right speed when he was able to qualify his E-type 10th. Peter beat out the likes of Chiron, Gerard, Etancelin, Murray and Claes.

Despite being attended by royalty, the Brit, Walker, would not really enjoy much of the 1950 British Grand Prix however. After only two laps, Peter turned the driving duties over to fellow Brit Tony Rolt. Unfortunately, the pace the car showed during qualifying wasn't matched by endurance. Both Peter Walker's and Tony Rolt's British Grand Prix came to an early end on lap five due to gearbox problems. Peter Walker's inaugural Formula One season came to an end after only an accumulation of five laps, as Walker did not contest another event on the Formula One calendar. So Peter Walker's team ended the first season of Formula One having qualified a personal best 10th, but only having completed five laps, and personally, Walker had only contested a total of two laps in Formula One.

This sad fact was not to be what Walker is remembered for however. Although considered 'erratic' by some, there was no denying Peter's ability. Though appearing as a footnote for Formula One's first season, in sports car racing Peter had the connections to not only compete but to go on to win. Pairing with his old connection Peter Whitehead in 1951, Walker would go on to achieve his greatest fame—winning the 24 hours of Le Mans.


Wikipedia contributors. 'Peter Walker (racing driver).' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 Mar. 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.

'Peter Walker.',,
22 March 2010
Formula One World Drivers' Champions
1950 G. Farina

1951 J. Fangio

1952 A. Ascari

1953 A. Ascari

1954 J. Fangio

1955 J. Fangio

1956 J. Fangio

1957 J. Fangio

1958 M. Hawthorn

1959 S. Brabham

1960 S. Brabham

1961 P. Hill, Jr

1962 N. Hill

1963 J. Clark, Jr.

1964 J. Surtees

1965 J. Clark, Jr.

1966 S. Brabham

1967 D. Hulme

1968 N. Hill

1969 S. Stewart

1970 K. Rindt

1971 S. Stewart

1972 E. Fittipaldi

1973 S. Stewart

1974 E. Fittipaldi

1975 A. Lauda

1976 J. Hunt

1977 A. Lauda

1978 M. Andretti

1979 J. Scheckter

1980 A. Jones

1981 N. Piquet

1982 K. Rosberg

1983 N. Piquet

1984 A. Lauda

1985 A. Prost

1986 A. Prost

1987 N. Piquet

1988 A. Senna

1989 A. Prost

1990 A. Senna

1991 A. Senna

1992 N. Mansell

1993 A. Prost

1994 M. Schumacher

1995 M. Schumacher

1996 D. Hill

1997 J. Villeneuve

1998 M. Hakkinen

1999 M. Hakkinen

2000 M. Schumacher

2001 M. Schumacher

2002 M. Schumacher

2003 M. Schumacher

2004 M. Schumacher

2005 F. Alonso

2006 F. Alonso

2007 K. Raikkonen

2008 L. Hamilton

2009 J. Button

2010 S. Vettel

2011 S. Vettel

2012 S. Vettel

2013 S. Vettel

2014 L. Hamilton

2015 L. Hamilton

2016 N. Rosberg

2017 L. Hamilton

2018 L. Hamilton

2019 L. Hamilton

2020 L. Hamilton

2021 M. Verstappen