1959 Begins with the Monaco GP.

Climax versus Dino FangioThe Ferrari Dino 246s F1.

Pronunciation: dee-know. [i.e., no pun intended].

Philosoraptor No BackgroundThe Ferrari Dino 246s F1 was a lot like a velociraptor.  Highly refined; yet, doomed to extinction.  It used start-of-the-art drum brakes: an outdated technology, already replaced by disc brakes.  More importantly, the engine was placed traditionally – in the front.  For those unfamiliar why this is advantageous, allow me to briefly explain.  In a race car, the rear wheels push the car and the front wheels turn it.  By putting the engine behind the driver, there was more weight – and more traction – over the driving wheels.  Moreover, placing the engine behind the driver generally results in more even weight distribution.  This makes the car easier to flick back and forth through the twisty bits.

Therefore, for a variety of reasons, the Dino 246s F1 was doomed to extinction.  It was the most-developed front-engined car that money could buy.  And yet, it was a Dino-saur in that clever thinking was out-racing big money.  This is something rarely seen in Modern F1.  In fact, these clever British fellows were pejoratively referred to as “garagistas” by Enzo.  They designed cars with a garage floor, chalk, and a lot of coffee-pointing.  The simple outfits of British teams such as Cooper were out-designing all the Italian expertise that money could buy.  Although, it is worth noting that Ferrari had not yet achieved the legendary, almost mythical status, which it enjoys in modern car culture.  Nevertheless, British racing green is coming on so strong, I am contemplating changing the background of GP evolved to that characteristic shade of moss.

The Cooper Climax T51.

Cooper Climax Diagram Color with text

The Cooper-Climax represented a new species of F1 car.  The MR (mid-engined, rear-wheel-driven) setup remains in existence to this day.  Thus, the Cooper-Climax represents the ancestral past of the modern car.  It truly is as if the first few years of Formula were dominated by out-dated dinosaurs, designed based on a preexisting concept of what a race car should be.  By the beginning of 1959, the modern species of car was beginning to perform and drive the Italian dinosaurs into extinction.  I’ll defer to an expert on the Cooper-Climax T51 for an initial evaluation of what is what like to drive the first winning rear-engined F1 car.  If you have time, please enjoy this (apparently 1980’s) video of Stirling Moss revisiting what it was like to drive this game-changing chassis:

The 1959 Monaco Grand Prix, retold.

1959 Monaco GP Race PosterAlthough British technology had taken a step-forward with the Cooper-Climax T51, the F1 circus still felt the aftermath of the previous season.  Mike Hawthorn was dead and Vanwall had withdrawn.

When the flag dropped, the 1959 season was underway.  Jean Behra got the best start and maintained his lead for 21 laps.  Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham nipped at his heels, until Behra was overtaken.  Stirling Moss led the next 61 laps until Monaco punishing gear-shifts destroyed his transmission.  Out of the race, Australian Jack Brabham cruised to victory.  He was the first Australian to win a Formula 1 race.

Obscure Race Footage

There was not any proper race footage readily available.  However, I did find some apparent home footage of the race:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fIYqXK2w4o

Driver’s Championship

  • Jack Brabham – 9
  • Tony Brooks – 6
  • Maurice Trintignant – 4

Constructor’s Championship

  • Cooper-Climax – 8
  • Scuderia Ferrari – 6

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