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Silverstone '58 - Hawthorn & Collins' all-English affair 06 Jul 2010

1958 British Grand Prix. Silverstone, Great Britain. 19 July 1958. Peter Collins, Ferrari Dino 246, 1st position, and Mike Hawthorn, Ferrari Dino 246, 2nd position, after the race, portrait. 1958 British Grand Prix. Silverstone, Great Britain. 19 July 1958. Peter Collins, Ferrari Dino 246, 1st position, action. Silverstone, England. 17th - 19th July 1958. Mike Hawthorn (Ferrari Dino 246) 2nd position, action. Silverstone, Great Britain. 19 July 1958. Jo Bonnier (Maserati 250F), 9th position, pulls into the pits. 1958 British Grand Prix. Silverstone, England. 17-19 July 1958. Peter Collins (Ferrari Dino 246) wins his home Grand Prix.

Given their form of late - and the fact they’ll be armed with a heavily-revised McLaren - Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton could well challenge for a one-two at this weekend’s British Grand Prix. Do it and they will become the latest in a long line of British drivers to achieve the feat. But dip into the history books to discover the last time two English team mates reigned supreme on home soil you have to delve pretty deep - all the way back to Silverstone 1958…

Our protagonists are Ferrari’s legendary pairing of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins, who arrived at their home race in very different circumstances. Whilst Hawthorn was in the midst of a fierce championship battle with Vanwall’s Stirling Moss (they were level-pegging on 23 points apiece), Collins had been fighting for his seat.

At the previous round in France he’d initially been demoted by a disillusioned Enzo Ferrari to the Italian marque’s Formula Two team. But, with the support of Hawthorn, his long-time friend, loyal team mate and by all accounts fellow rabble-rouser, Collins was reinstated.

Silverstone qualifying saw Hawthorn’s title hopes dimmed when he only managed fourth on the grid, with pole going to compatriot Moss. BRM’s Harry Schell and Cooper’s Roy Salvadori were second and third respectively, while Collins was down in sixth behind Lotus’s Cliff Allison. Ahead of the start Collins was sure of his objective, telling reporters that his principal aim was ‘to help Mike win it’.

But from the off the advantage was Collins’, as he sprang up from the second row into the lead, with Moss and Hawthorn chasing behind. As the lap count grew, and the title rivals busied themselves scrapping for second, Collins slowly crept away in his scarlet 246 machine, increasing his lead more and more.

Twenty six laps in, however, and Moss’s race ground to a halt as he pitted with terminal engine failure. Almost simultaneously, Salvadori passed Lewis Evans for third. Collins, meanwhile, had no such worries with his great friend Hawthorn riding shotgun in second. Even if he had wanted to challenge his team mate, Hawthorn would have struggled as he had been carrying an oil issue on his Ferrari from the second lap.

Fearing he may have to retire, Hawthorn had been lapping with reduced revs. But when he saw the reading on his oil pressure gauge plummet dangerously low, he knew he’d have to pit. As he drew up to the Ferrari mechanics, he shouted out for more oil and was able to retain second place in spite of his emergency stop. Wolfgang von Trips in the third Ferrari was not so lucky. He had been carrying a similar issue, but pitted too late to take on extra lubricant and had to retire.

At the front things may have settled down, but the battle for third continued to rage. While Collins calmly crossed the victory line 24.2 seconds ahead of Hawthorn, Essex-born Salvadori and Luton-born Lewis Evans fought tooth and nail to the chequered flag, with Salvadori edging it by a whisker. It meant as well as enjoying the first one-two for English team mates at Silverstone, the home crowd was treated to an all-British top four.

Glorious as it was, Collins’ victory - the third of his Formula One career - is forever tinged with sadness, as it proved to be his last. Just two weeks later he was killed in the German Grand Prix at the treacherous Nurburgring. His great friend Hawthorn was devastated, and although he continued to race for the rest of the season, clinching the title by a single point from Moss, he announced his retirement at the end of the year.