1959 British Grand Prix

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

Current page

183

Current page

184

Current page

185

Current page

186

Current page

187

Current page

188

Current page

189

It’s 50 years since Jack Brabham won his first World Championship. To celebrate, we return to his perfect win from pole at Aintree
By Doug Nye

Fifty years ago this December, Sir Jack Brabham clinched the first of his three Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship titles by pushing his stricken Cooper-Climax across the finish line in the United States GP at Sebring. He had previously won that year’s Monaco and British GPs, and at Sebring he had better luck than his two title challengers, Stirling Moss (Rob Walker Cooper) and Tony Brooks (works Ferrari).

Perhaps Jack’s finest drive that year had been his win in the British GP at Aintree. Imagine yourself there that sunny day. Sniff the air. Scent the nearby chemical industry, enhanced by the tang of hot racing oil as Formula 1’s finest blast past.

This was the summer of Formula 1’s rear-engined revolution.

The latest 2½-litre Coventry Climax FPF engines had put the little Coopers on a power par with their front-engined opposition from BRM, Aston Martin and Ferrari. But the big FPFs’ extra torque left Cooper’s production-derived Citroën-ERSA gearboxes desperately marginal. For Aintree new gearbox oil pumps were introduced on all three works Coopers, while roller-bearings replaced plain. The result was race-distance survival. But Cooper had refused to supply gearboxes to Rob Walker’s team for Moss and Maurice Trintignant. They ran the new Italian Colotti ’box instead, its teething troubles having lost Stirling the lead in both Monaco and Holland. At Aintree he drove instead the BRP-entered front-engined BRM Type 25.

But perhaps the most significant Aintree factor was absent. Having finished 1-2 in the April Aintree ‘200’ Ferrari’s front-engined Dino 246s on their latest Dunlop tyres and disc brakes could have been a potent threat. Tony Brooks – co-winner of the last GP to be run at Aintree (in ’57) – had dominated the preceding World Championship round at Reims. But there, obsessed by the notion that Ferrari had favoured his team-mate, Aintree ‘200’ winner Jean Behra had hit team manager Romolo Tavoni and was sacked. Meanwhile, Ferrari’s Aintree start money demands had stalled. Coincidentally, Italy’s metal-working unions called a strike, so Ferrari scratched its British GP entries.

In his works Cooper, ‘Black Jack’ ran the only straight-port, big-valve Mark II-headed Climax FPF engine in the field, plus the pressure-lubricated gearbox… and his rivals had to watch in awe as he left them for dead. As he recalled: “The big drama was tyre wear. I put a thick-tread sports car tyre on my car’s left-front. Even so, around half-distance I could see its tread was disappearing… so I began tossing the car tail-out into the corners to reduce the load on that marginal left-front. Moss had to make a late stop, and that clinched it for me. I was able to ease to the finish with a completely bald left-front.”

A winning Hand for ‘Black Jack’

Jack Brabham waves exultantly as he takes the flag to win the 1959 British GP at Aintree. Last time the race had been run here, in 1957, Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks had won for Vanwall. In between, at Silverstone ’58 the late duo of Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn had finished 1-2 for Ferrari. So the Liverpool circuit was becoming a lucky one for the new wave of British F1 teams. Jack had won earlier that 1959 season, in the non-championship BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone, before his maiden Grande Epreuve win at Monaco. For the nut brown Australian and the Cooper works team Aintree was the icing on the cake.

Battle of the British cars

Front-engined British F1 contenders from Lotus and Aston Martin – private owner David Piper in his Lotus 16 under pressure from Texan works driver Carroll Shelby in his DBR4/250. ‘Pipes’s race ended after 19 laps with ‘queerbox’ failure and ‘Ole Shel’ went out when Aston’s ignition lost its spark. The Astons had qualified well, Salvadori second and Shelby sixth.

Shelby practices his lines…

During practice at Aintree some blokes had found it hard to concentrate on the job at hand – Shelby of Aston Martin – while others could only look on and approve of their rival’s taste (and inattention) like Brabham, all dressed up and raring to go. Jack put in almost the perfect performance, qualifying convincingly on pole, then leading throughout the race. But he did not set fastest lap, Moss and McLaren sharing it during their late-race duel for second. The BARC timekeepers still used fifth-of-a-second ‘eggtimers’ to credit Stirl and Bruce with 1min 58sec each – against Jack’s 1min 59sec for pole.

Breakaway from tradition

First lap out in the country, with four rear-engined runners against five front-engined traditionalists: Brabham’s Cooper Type 51 is haring away from Harry Schell’s BRM Type 25, Salvadori’s Aston Martin, Jo Bonnier’s BRM, on the wide line Moss’s BRP-entered BRM, then Masten Gregory’s tail-wagging works Cooper, Maurice Trintignant’s Rob Walker-entered Cooper (18), McLaren’s works Cooper (16)… and Graham Hill’s ultra-light Lotus 16 (28).

Vanwall vexation

In Ferrari’s absence, French GP winner Tony Brooks tried to add to his World Championship points in an updated Vanwall. John Bolster reported: “It would appear the delicate art of tuning the fuel injection system for clean acceleration has been temporarily lost, for last year’s triumphant exhaust note was never heard… the abortive comeback of the Vanwall made me wince at the sight of that magnificent driver… being condemned to circulate among the F2 cars.” Here chief mechanic Cyril Atkins (right) looks on while Norman Burkinshaw competes with the windscreen wrap-around’s confines. Oh dear…

Moss makes the best of BRM

On ‘Easter Tuesday’ Moss had tested BRM’s much-improved Type 25 and clocked Goodwood’s first 100mph lap. He had raced a works car at May Silverstone but the brakes failed. Suspicious of BRM preparation, he asked Alfred Owen to loan a car to the BRP team. When his first-choice Rob Walker Cooper lost the Monaco and Dutch GPs with gearbox failure he played the BRP-BRM card at Reims and Aintree… where he wrung the car’s neck but still finished second.

An eggtimer finish!

The last-gasp dash for the finish line between Moss’s BRP-liveried BRM Type 25 (left) and Kiwi newcomer McLaren’s works Cooper Type 51 as Bourne’s best beat Surbiton’s finest to second by – according to those eggtimers – their smallest recordable margin of one fifth of a second.

A grin and a wince…

Varying fortunes, bygone style and real substance – sober lounge suits and horn-rimmed spectacles alike for team chiefs Charles Cooper and Tony Vandervell. The latter’s teardrop cars had won here in 1957 and clinched the inaugural F1 constructors’ title in ’58. He’d withdrawn his Vanwall team from full-time racing for ’59, but ran one modified car here for Brooks. When it performed pathetically he gave the start and appearance money to the driver. After such a scintillating performance from Jack and his Type 51, Cooper had no such problem.

McLaren shows true grit

Bruce McLaren drove a stupendous Aintree race in his Cooper, still wearing the grit-blasted nose cone from Reims where the sun-cooked track surface broke up. That day ‘Pop’ McLaren and his wife were spectating for the first time at a real GP. When they saw their exhausted son stagger from his car, his goggles smashed and awash with a mix of sweat and blood “like pink Champagne”, they had wondered if F1 “is always like this?” At Aintree, Bruce showed them the other side of the coin.