The rise – and fall – of Brabham

...a team that established Bernie in F1

Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac formed Motor Racing Developments while the former was still racing for Cooper in Formula 1. The first car, the Formula Junior MRD, appeared in August 1961 and Brabham left Cooper at the end of the season to concentrate on establishing his own marque. That initially included running a works F1 concern and selling customer chassis in the junior categories.

The team recorded back-to-back world championship victories in 1966 and 1967 but suffered when ‘Black Jack’ retired from racing and returned to Australia at the end of 1970. Tauranac briefly ran the company on his own before selling out to Bernie Ecclestone before the 1972 season. Gordon Murray was soon promoted as chief designer and the team was winning races once more within two years. Four seasons with Alfa Romeo power stymied progress during the late 1970s although Niki Lauda did win twice in 1978, including his Swedish Grand Prix victory with the infamous BT46B ‘fan-car’.

Nelson Piquet used a Cosworth-DFV to take the 1981 world title before Ecclestone brokered a partnership with BMW as turbocharging increasingly dominated the sport. Piquet snatched the 1983 title from Renault’s Alain Prost at the South African finale – Brabham’s fourth and final such championship success.

Instrumental in shaping GP racing’s commercial future as chief executive of the Formula One Constructors’ Association, Ecclestone withdrew Brabham after the 1987 season. It returned after a year’s absence under new ownership and struggled on for four largely unsuccessful campaigns before closing its doors following the 1992 Hungarian GP.

‘Data Trace’ was born from Motor Sport’s online Database, which includes results from around the world, from the mainstream to the obscure. There are full results for the main championships, while the history of others is detailed with race winners and champions, a feature that is expanding all the time