In the early years of the 1970s, Ronnie Peterson was a renowned race car driver. Tall, husky and charming, he was admired for his charisma, humility and easygoing demeanor. The two cut a dashing couple both on and off the track. They were arguably the golden couple of motorsport in its heyday.
In 1978, Peterson competed in Formula 1 as a driver for the Lotus team, which was sponsored by John Player Cigarettes. He was frustrated with his situation, and it spilled over into his private life. His wife, Annette, is an artist and a devoted fan of Ronnie Peterson.
Peterson had been the leader of the drivers’ championship, but he had been injured in the early rounds. The car he was driving was damaged during practice at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. Peterson had been running in a Lotus type 78 for the first two years, but he damaged it in a practice session. He suffered a bruising to his legs. Lotus had no other racing car that season, and Peterson was forced to use an aging type 78. The car had already been around the F1 circuit once.
Peterson’s death shook Formula One. It was a scandal over the medical treatment of drivers. Peterson and Mario Andretti were team mates, and Peterson’s death shook the sport. After a brief hiatus from the sport, Peterson returned to the team in order to make amends for his death. He was driving an ageing Lotus 72, but was determined to make up for the losses. Despite the tragic circumstances, he had a storied career.