Formula One 1959 Season

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Formula One 1959 Season

1959 Cooper Formula One
1959 Cooper Profile ...

750 cc (supercharged), 2500 cc (normally aspirated)

No Limit

1st: 8, 2nd: 6, 3rd: 4, 4th: 3, 5th: 2, Fastest Lap: 1

The Indy 500 was included in the World Championship.

With the signing on of Tony Brooks, Ferrari completed their team for the 1959 season. The line-up of Jean Behra, Tony Brooks, Phil Hill, Olivier Gendebien, Dan Gurney and Cliff Allison made the Ferrari team the strongest for the season, and set Stirling Moss a real problem for his World Championship aspirations. On paper it looked very likely that the 1959 champion would be Brooks, Moss or Hill. Nevertheless Ferrari was again set the problem of who would be the team leader. Undoubtedly he will use the same system as before, under which whoever is leading on World Championship points will automatically take over as Number One after the first three races. The outlook for Gendebien, Gurney and Allison did not appear so rosy at the start of the season, since Ferrari were to only run three cars, with possibly a fourth car at Rheims, Spa and Monza. Gendebien was the natural selection for the fourth car at Spa. It looked like Gurney and Allison would end up with only one ride each during the whole of the year.

Jean Behra, when he was not engaged on his Ferrari commitments, was taking part in Formula Two events with a special Porsche. He had purchased an R.S.K. Porsche which he was himself modifying in Modena. The car was a single central seater with a specially-built Italian body. The whole thing weighed some 100 lb. less than the standard R.S.K. Behra gained a lot of know-how during the 1958 season with Porsche and was responsible for a number of alterations to the chassis, so his "Behra Special" became a very potent contender for Formula Two honours.

Other news from Modena was that the Scuderia Centro Sud were taking delivery of two Cooper chassis, one to be fitted with a 2.5-litre Maserati four-cylinder engine for Formula One events, and the other with a 2 litre 4 cylinder sports car engine for sports events. Mimmo Dei, owner of the Scuderia, attempted to install one of his six-cylinder Formula One Maserati engines into a Cooper chassis before the season finished. Masten Gregory, after a slight disagreement which caused him to forego his Aston Martin works ride, signed up for the season with the Cooper works team, where he will have Brabham and McLaren for company. In Formula Two events he drove the privately-owned Cooper of Alan Brown, and for sports cars he signed up with Ecurie Ecosse to drive the Lister-Jaguar in all World Championship events except Le Mans, where he drove a very much modified D-type Jaguar.

One of the B.R.M. ideas for 1959 was a new engine with four-bearing support for the crankshaft instead of five. This system was adopted originally on the first four-cylinder B.R.M. engines, but B.R.M. wanted to develop the idea further. Rob Walker fitted two B.R.M. engines into Cooper chassis. These engines were of two different types, interchangeable for the Moss Cooper at Monte Carlo. For Formula Two events Moss had the 1500 c.c. desmo-dromic Borgward engine, as Borgward did not intend to race in 1959. This caused former Borgward driver, Hans Herrmann, to join the Porsche team along with Bonnier. The Porsche team was completed by Maglioli and Von Trips.

The Monaco Curtain Raiser

Prior to the Monaco Grand Prix, the first event on the 1959 Formula One Championship calendar, all the odds were in favour of British teams. Monaco itself was, as it is now, a tortuous, hilly circuit and the British Cooper-based cars, with their tremendous power/weight ratios and excellent traction, had a theoretical advantage over the new 1959 Ferraris. The Ferraris, powered by the well-known Dino 246 V6 engines, were a little shorter and higher than in 1958. They were fitted with wider air-inlets to guard against shunting mishaps. Driven in practice by Phil Hill, Behra and Brooks, they didn't prove a challenge to Moss's new light B.R.M. - engined Cooper (about 260 h.p.) which beat the 13 other Formula One contestants with a practice lap at 1.39.6 Behra (Ferrai) was next fastest, followed by Brabham (Cooper).

The trio made up the first row of the starting grid, which featured also three B.R.M.'s (Flockhart, Bonnier, Schell), the McLaren Cooper, America's Gregory, in a Cooper, Salvadoris' Cooper-Maserati, one Lotus, the other two Ferraris and a bunch of Formula Two cars. Moss had by this time transferred to a straight Cooper-Climax because of trouble in the Italian-made gearbox of the "special". The sun blazed down from a cloudless sky and Monte Carlo was at its brilliant best as Prince Rainier and Princess Grace arrived to watch the start. Some of the stands were rather sparsely occupied. As the pack jostled round the Gasworks hairpin, Behra took the lead, followed by Moss and Brabham and these three kept station for 21 laps, drawing away from the rest of the field.

Effectively it was soon a Formula One event only, as on the second lap Von Trips' Porsche went broadside at the Ste. Devote turn and was rammed by Allison's Ferrari, which was in turn rammed by Halford's Lotus, so that the three F2 machines were wrecked, fortunately without injury to the drivers! Gregory, too, was soon out with gearbox trouble. During the first half of the race, Brabham didn't have much of a chance. He lapped steadily behind Moss and Behra. The Ferrari led from the start but was overtaken on the 22nd lap by the young Britisher, eventually withdrawing on the Lap 24 with a split oil tank. Then a hotly contested battle ensued between Moss and Brabham, but Stirling's engine seemed to possess slightly more power than Jack's largely similar unit and Moss steadily increased his lead from nine sec. to a full minute in the 80th. Then, surprisingly, he was forced to stop at the pits with differential trouble. After a vain struggle to investigate a suspected crown wheel fracture, he gave up, bitterly disappointed, leaving Brabham in the lead.

Meanwhile, Brooks, second man in the Ferrari team, had been in a "tactical" position in the field from the start. After Behra's withdrawal he received the "go ahead" signal from the pits and steadily increased his pace, overtaking Trintignant, then MacLaren's Cooper, Phil Hill's Ferrari and Bonnier's B.R.M., eventually making second position 10 sec. behind the Australian leader. Brooks was physically ill and his Ferrari lacked power, but it was a threat. Brabham, warned of this new danger by his pit, immediately urged the Cooper faster. With only 18 laps to go, the chase was well and truly on. Brooks, violently sick in his cockpit and half overcome by fumes, streaked on and on, faster and faster, in the wake of the flying green Cooper. But Brabham responded with a string of sensational laps that sent the crowd wild with excitement. Jack increased his advantage to 20 seconds. John Cooper, builder of the cars that bore his name, was dancing jigs in the pits.

Ten thousand jubilant spectators cheered themselves hoarse as Brabham, smiling, crossed the finishing line and proudly received the trophy from Princess Grace. Fans and racing experts alike asked: "Can this young 26-year-old become the next world champion?" Behind, the field had diminished. The B.R.M.'s were forced to abandon the race, one after the other, as did Gregory and Graham Hill with the Lotuses. At half-time only eight contestants remained and this figure was reduced to five at the finish. The previous day a young student from Switzerland, Michael May, was similarly honoured by the sovereign of Monaco. He had won the Formula Junior curtain-raiser.
1959 Grand Prix Calendar
Grand Prix Circuit
Pole Position
May 10th, 1959
Monaco GP Monte Carlo
Stirling Moss Jack Brabham
May 30th, 1959
United States
Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis
Johnny Thomson Rodger Ward
May 31st, 1959
Dutch GP Zandvoort Jo Bonnier Jo Bonnier
July 5th, 1959
ACF GP Reims Tony Brooks Tony Brooks
July 19th, 1959
Great Britain
British GP Aintree Jack Brabham Jack Brabham
August 2nd, 1959
German GP Berlin
Tony Brooks Tony Brooks
August 23rd, 1959
Portuguese GP Monsanto Stirling Moss Stirling Moss
September 13th, 1959
Italian GP Monza
Stirling Moss Stirling Moss
December 12th, 1959
United States
United States GP Sebring Stirling Moss Bruce McLaren
1959 F1 Drivers
Jack Brabham
Tony Brooks
Stirling Moss
Phil Hill
Maurice Trintignant
Bruce McLaren
Dan Gurney
Jo Bonnier
1959 F1 Constructors
Cooper / Climax
Ferrari / Ferrari
Lotus / Climax
No Constructor
No Constructor
No Constructor
No Constructor
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