Another Formula 1 documentary is set to hit cinema screens with the release this week of Super Swede, which charts the life and legacy of Ronnie Peterson.

A tall and tail-happy driver, Peterson thrilled Formula 1 fans in the 1970s with his astonishing car control only to be tragically killed following a start line crash at the 1978 Italian Grand Prix.

A multiple karting champion in his homeland between 1963 and 1966, Ronnie made the jump to Formula 3 and won the Swedish championship in 1968. In 1969, he won the prestigious Monaco Formula 3 support race, earning himself a three-year contract with the March F1 team from 1970. His was a rapid rise indeed.

Promoted to March’s works squad just a year later, he marked himself as a future champion by finishing runner-up to Jackie Stewart while also winning the European Formula 2 championship title with five race wins.

Super Swede

Super Swede (click to enlarge)

He joined Team Lotus in 1973, dominating the second half of the season with four wins to finish third overall. It was enough to spook teammate Emerson Fittipaldi to join McLaren in 1974 – a wise move, as it would turn out for the Brazilian – and Peterson claimed a further three wins despite being saddled with the older 72E chassis.

Lotus’ subsequent models proved to be a waste of Peterson’s talents, and so he returned to March – winning brilliantly at Monza – before being temped to join Tyrrell in 1977, where he struggled to tame its radical six-wheeled racing car.

He re-joined Lotus with his tail between his legs, accepting a number-two role to teammate Mario Andretti as the American used the outfit’s ground-effect 79 chassis to head towards a maiden World Championship. Dutifully driving in the legendary driver’s wheeltracks race after race, Peterson was there to pick up the spoils if things went wrong and won in South Africa and Austria.

Unbeknownst to the team, Peterson had secretly signed a contract to join McLaren in 1979 before tragedy struck in Monza. He badly broke his legs when his car was tipped into the barriers, dying afterwards in hospital when he suffered an embolism.

His was a life of potential and today his legacy is still marked as being one of the most flamboyant drivers to have ever graced the Formula 1 grid.

Directed by Henrik Jansson-Schweizer and produced by Peterson’s own daughter Nina Kennedy, Super Swede will have its world premiere in Stockholm this week before a limited cinema release.

The documentary features a mix of historical footage and interviews with many of Peterson’s contemporaries, including Andretti and Fittipaldi, as well as Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart, Jody Scheckter and John Watson.

You can watch the official trailer below:

Image via Diariomotor

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Geoff Burke

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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