Peter Gethin, the winner of the 1971 Italian Grand Prix, has died following a long illness. The former BRM, McLaren and Embassy Hill Lola Formula 1 driver, who famously triumphed at the race that featured just 0.61sec between the top five finishers, was 71.
The son of a professional jockey, British-born Gethin first came to prominence when he was already in his late 20s, as a frontrunner in British Formula 3, but he really found his feet in Formula 5000, winning the British title in 1969 and '70.
It was in '70 that he made his Formula 1 World Championship debut, the death of Bruce McLaren in a testing accident at Goodwood resulting in a call-up to take the vacant seat at the Kiwi's team. He retired from his debut at Zandvoort after qualifying 11th, but scored his first World Championship point at the fifth time of asking in Canada.
Gethin is best-known for his victory at the '71 Italian Grand Prix, which came in just his second start for BRM as a replacement for its star driver Pedro Rodriguez, who had been killed in a sports car race at the Norisring. He never reached such heights again in the championship, and rounded out his F1 career with a one-off for Graham Hill's eponymous squad. He finished up with 30 starts, one win, and 11 points to his name.
A versatile driver, Gethin took a pair of significant non-championship F1 wins at Brands Hatch, triumphing in the World Championship Victory Race in 1971 for BRM and the Race of Champions in '73. In the latter event, he used an F5000 Chevron to beat the whole F1 contingent, which included past or future World Champions Graham Hill, Denny Hulme, Jody Scheckter, Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt.
He added the '74 Tasman Series F5000 crown, and claimed a last major victory in a Can-Am race at Road America in '77 in a Lola, Gethin having also been a winner in McLaren machinery in the series.
After a spell as a driver manager, he was appointed team manager at the Toleman F1 team in 1984, and later set up his own squad, Peter Gethin Racing, which competed in F3000 in the latter part of the decade.