LONDON, Dec 6, 2011 (AFP) - Formula One team McLaren were among those paying tribute to former driver Peter Gethin following the British racer's death at the age of 71.
Gethin's place in Formula One history was secured when, driving for BRM, he won the 1971 Italian Grand Prix in one of the most dramatic finishes of all-time.
Born in Surrey, south-east England, and the son of jockey Ken Gethin, he secured his only win in a world championship event by coming out on top in a frenetic race at Monza where the top five cars across the line were covered by just 0.61 seconds, the closest finish in the sport's history. During his 30 starts in Formula One, Gethin also drove for McLaren and the Embassy Hill teams.
His F1 debut came at the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix when McLaren drafted him in to replace founder Bruce McLaren, who had been killed in a sportscar accident. And the British team posted a message on their official Twitter feed saying: "RIP Peter Gethin - 1940-2011. Our thoughts are with Peter's family at this sad time."
Gethin left McLaren and made the switch to BRM in the middle of the 1971 season in following the death of their Mexican driver Pedro Rodriguez, his win at Monza coming in just his second race for the team. Gethin also triumphed in non-championship F1 races at Brands Hatch, notably winning the 1973 Formula 5000 race at the English track. He was a two-time British F5000 champion and was also a race winner in the North American Can-Am series, and secured notable wins with the Lola team in both classes.
A statement on Lola Group's website said: "Peter Gethin was one of the most dependable and versatile racing drivers of the late 1960s and 1970s. "Successful in most forms of motor sport at his time, Gethin was a true enthusiast who won many races driving for Lola amongst many other constructors. "Lola Group would like to extend its sympathies with his family and many racing fans and friends."
A statement on the British Racing Drivers' Club website said: "It is with great regret that the club has to announce the death of life member and former director, Peter Gethin, who passed away on December 5."