Swedish Formula One racing driver Gunnar Nilsson has died in hospital in London from cancer at the age of twenty-nine.
Swedish Formula One racing driver Gunnar Nilsson has died in hospital in London from cancer at the age of twenty-nine. Nilsson proved himself one of the most promising drivers on the Grand Prix circuit last year, but the cancer prevented him competing in the 1978 season, and his nine-month-old fight against the disease ended with his death early on Friday morning (20 October).
The son of a building contractor, Nilsson first served as a Swedish submarine radio officer, then later successfully developed business interests. He hit the racing headlines for the first time in 1975 -- the year he claimed a string of victories in Formula Five racing.
SYNOPSIS: Gunnar Nilsson's Formula One career began with a contract from Lotus in 1976. And success was not long in coming. He was the only freshman to score at all that year, and earned a notable tenth place in the championship table. His talent was confirmed the following year when he won the Belgian Grand Prix. Conditions were bad at the start of the event, with heavy rain making driving difficult. Some of the racing stars had gambled on the rain easing, and had fitted dry weather tyres -- a mistake later to by seized upon by Nilsson and used to gain ground.
When the rain eased, Nilsson showed the technical qualities of his new Lotus car to chase the race favourites..
Brazil's emerson Fittipaldi, driving a Copersucar, was the victim of a spin, and had to return to the pits. South Africa's Jody Scheckter also spun off the track, but was back after a wheel change.
Austria's Nike Lauda was one of the first to change tyres, but was overhauled on the forty-ninth lap by Nilsson, who went on to win. It proved a victory he could not follow up -- although he remained with Lotus for the rest of the season, finishing eighth in the driver's championship.