Nigel Roebuck’s reprise of Ronnie Peterson’s career in the May issue brought many happy memories flooding back and, sadly, the acute sense of loss I felt following his death at Monza. There are always pivotal moments in motor racing and these are often marked by the loss of a great driver; for me it was the departure of Ronnie, and whilst I remain an avid enthusiast the sport has never been quite the same since the 1978 Italian Grand Prix.
To add to historical debate rather than perpetuate popularly held legends, I would offer an alternative view of Ronnie’s lack of testing abilities. I had absorbed this line which routinely accompanied journalist’s assessments of his ability and now crops up again in Nigel Roebuck’s article.
I would have assumed this weakness to be true were it not for a conversation I held with Ralph Bellamy several years ago. He was, I believe, involved in March’s Formula Two programme and I asked him if it was true that Ronnie was a poor test driver. Almost incensed he strongly denied this, claiming that Ronnie’s testing work had been invaluable to cars which he, Bellamy, had engineered.
Perhaps others who worked with ‘Superswede’ could add their experiences through your columns to either dispel a fable or confirm the longheld view? For my part it will make no difference one way or the other — Ronnie always gave the best value of any driver no matter what he was pedalling.
I am yours, etc
Chris Willows, Wokingham