In 1958 a new generation of riders, led by Peter Collins, Mike Hawthorn, Luigi Musso and Stirling Moss, was ready to take the legacy of Juan Manuel Fangio, who occasionally participated in some championship races that year, before hanging his helmet on the nail. Collins, Hawthorn and Musso raced for Ferrari, Moss for Vanwall. It was a disastrous season for the Cavallino, which saw Collins lose his life at the Nurburgring and Musso in Reims. The championship was won by Hawthorn, who died a few months later, in January 1959 in a car accident, after retiring from F1. A film was also dedicated to that generation of pilots in 2017, called “Ferrari, Race to Immortality“. Enzo Ferrari, in his book “Pilots what people …”Recalled the figures of Musso and Hawthorn, and their opposition, which lasted until the tragic hand-to-hand combat of the French GP.
“[…] Luigi Musso was an international class driver, I would say the latest example of a perfect style driver school, […] His drive to the 1958 Targa Florio, paired with Gendebien, was exemplary. He disappeared the same year in Reims. Very little has been written about that incident with Mike Hawthorn and enough has been said, […]. One fact remains: when the anxiety of victory pervades a generous driver, it is easy for him to take risks that cannot be calculated, especially when the direct antagonist is animated by the same stubborn will to succeed. […] In that curve there were two men, team mates, at the wheel of two equally powerful cars, with an identical eager desire to win. I don’t think there was any real personal rivalry between Musso and Hawthorn; they esteemed each other, they were friends even if of very different temperament. But in that curve they probably fought, to the extreme. Hawthorn was a man already tired of running, after nine years of passion and risk. He had let me understand that he was aiming, with all his strength, to win the world title: after, finally, he would retire. That year he was in a good position in the classification, behind Stirling Moss: he knew that if he had won at that circuit in Reims, the world championship dream could come true.
[…] Even Musso was chasing the title of world champion, even Musso could have made it his. […] Musso then had a well-founded secret, […] Fangio had told him, in fact, that by keeping the foot crushed at the bend of Muizon, where everyone took off, it was possible to gain half a second. […] But the following year the Ferraris were more powerful and Musso realized in the tests that the risk was great. So they reached the curve together, Hawthorn in front, Musso about twenty meters away. I am convinced that the heat of the competition made him keep his foot down to the bottom. It is difficult to know what happened. […] With Musso the beautiful Italian style ended. Hawthorn became world champion. Six weeks after the press conference in which he announced his final retirement, he skidded in the wet with his touring car as he was driving home one evening. […] This is a strange, terrible story about Musso and Hawthorn. Mike Hawthorn was a bewildering driver for his chances and discontinuity. A young man capable of facing and resolving any situation with a cold and calculated courage, with an exceptional readiness, but also inclined to fall victim to fearful failures. […] It should be added, to his greatest credit, that his health was not equal to his physical figure. But he was an intelligent idle and with his intelligence he made up for his shortcomings […]“.
Enzo Ferrari, Pilots what people …, 1983, pp. 63-66