1970s F1 driver Peter Gethin has died following a long battle with illness. He was 71.
Although he won just one race, Gethin's name went down in F1 history along with the event, as the 1971 Italian Grand Prix produced the closest finish of all time.
Despite it being just his second ever grand prix, BRM driver Gethin came out on top of a close battle at the front to pip Sweden's Ronnie Petersen by 0.01secs, with three other drivers crossing the line with 0.61secs of the victor. The race was also the fastest in history to that point, having been run at an average of 150.755mph on a Monza layout even more conducive to slip-streaming than today's version [see the race here
Remarkably, Gethin scored just a single point over the rest of his career, also for BRM at Monza, although he did taste the champagne again after winning the World Championship Victory Race in 1971 and the Race of Champions in 1973, both at Brands Hatch.
The Briton's career began by stepping into the shoes of the deceased, replacing Bruce McLaren in the Kiwi's eponymous outfit in 1970, and then taking over the BRM drive previously occupied by Pedro Rodriguez, when the Mexican was killed in a sportscar accident in 1971. His brief flirtation with the top flight lasted until 1974, ending after just 31 races with a one-off outing for the Embassy Hill team in the British GP. His highest championship finish was ninth, on the back of that Monza victory.
The son of a successful jockey, Gethin also found success in other series and forms of motorsport, underlining his reputation as a true enthusiast and one of the most dependable and versatile drivers of the late 1960s and 1970s. He won the British (1969 and '70) and Tasman F5000 titles and the Can-Am Challenge Cup, where he also raced for McLaren and Lola, and his last major victory came in Can-Am, at Road America in 1977, using the Team VDS Lola T333 to beat up-and-coming F1 star Gilles Villeneuve. After his driving career ended, Gethin, who also knew the engineering practicalities of how to make a racing car go faster, eventually turned his attention to management, running the Toleman F1 team in 1984, the year Ayrton Senna made his debut in the top flight, before setting up his own F3000 team to run the likes of Adrian Campos, Dave Scott and Cathy Muller in the early days of the category.