GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #20 - Jack Brabham

24-02-2020 19:00
by Adam Newton
GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #20 - Jack Brabham

We’re into the top 20! Welcome back to GPBlog’s countdown of our top 50 F1 drivers of all time, we’re getting closer to the end of this list as we enter the top 50. Yesterday we looked at 1978 champion Mario Andretti but today we’ve got our first multiple time champion, Jack Brabham…

Brabham began his motorsport career in Australia before making the brave move to Europe in 1955.

He made his F1 debut at the British Grand Prix that year and competed again in 1956, but failed to finish either race.

He secured a full time drive with Cooper in 1958, scoring his first F1 points in Monaco, but he was unable to make the points again that season.

Improvements for Cooper and the withdrawal of Vanwall made Brabham a competitive driver in 1959 and he took a dominant lead in the title race after wins in Monaco and Britain.

However, retirements in the nest two races brought Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss back into contention with just two rounds remaining.

Moss won as Brabham came third in Italy, leaving it down to the final race. Moss took pole but retired early on, leaving the unfancied Brooks as Brabham’s only competitor.

The Aussie led the race but ran out of fuel on the final lap, ending up pushing his car to the finish line. Fortunately, Brooks could only finish third and Brabham was crowned champion.

His title defence in 1960 started badly, retiring in Argentina before being disqualified for a push start in Monaco. After that though, Brabham took complete control, taking five consecutive victories, securing the title in the last of these, in Portugal.

Ferrari were top dogs in 1961 with Brabham only able to score four points and with Cooper in decline, Brabham made the decision to leave the team and create his own team.

Dan Gurney took two victories in 1964 with the team, but it took Brabham longer to get back to the top. When Brabham got their car right in 1966, the team founder was there to take advantage.

Similarly to 1960, Brabham went on a terrific run, winning four races in succession in France, Britain, the Netherlands and Germany.

Retirement for Graham Hill and John Surtees at the Italian Grand Prix made Brabham a triple world champion. He became the first and only driver to win a championship in one of his own cars.

Brabham the team stayed dominant for 1967 but Jack’s teammate Denny Hulme had now entered his prime, leading to a season long battle between the pair.

Hulme took the lead in the title race, but victory for Brabham in Canada and second in Italy brought Brabham back into contention. Hulme ended the season with consecutive podiums, taking the title from Brabham by just five points.

1968’s car was a nightmare with reliability and Brabham only finished in the points once. 1969 wasn’t much better but Brabham returned again in 1970, winning the season opener in South Africa and claiming three further podiums.

He was in championship contention following the British Grand Prix, but a run of poor finishes saw him end the season fifth.

Brabham retired at the end of the season and moved back to Australia, eventually selling the team to Bernie Ecclestone. He was knighted in 1978 and his team continued to have success before folding in 1992.

Brabham passed away at home in 2014 at the age of 88. He was the first Australian driver to win a world title and only the second man to win three titles and he will always be seen as a legendary F1 driver and champion.

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