1959 British Grand Prix (partially found footage of Formula One World Championship race; 1959)

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Jack Brabham leads the field away.

Status: Partially Found

The 1959 British Grand Prix was the fifth race of the 1959 Formula One Season. Occurring on 18th July at the Aintree Circuit, the race would ultimately be won by Jack Brabham in a Cooper-Climax, after having led every lap of the event. The race is one of a few World Championship events not to feature Ferrari, who were forced to withdraw due to strikes in Italy.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1959 British Grand Prix was the tenth running of the event within Formula One, with the race lasting 75 laps.[1][2][3] The 12th British Grand Prix overall, the event has remained an annual race on the Formula One calendar, primarily taking place at Silverstone, although Aintree and Brands Hatch have also hosted the event.[1]

Heading into the race, Italy was experiencing major strike action, primarily from metal workers.[4][5][6] The resulting strikes prevented Ferrari from attending the British Grand Prix, forcing title contender Tony Brooks to drive an outdated Vanwall lent to him by Tony Vandervell.[5][4][6] Nevertheless, while this meant the grid consisted mostly of British teams, the small Scuderia Centro-Sud had managed to overcome the problems that the Prancing Horse could not, becoming the only Italian presence at the race.[5][4] This presence was not enough for The Times to criticise the lack of international involvement, stating that Ferrari's absence "left the race all but shorn of the dashing internationalism to be expected".[4]

In qualifying, the Cooper-Climaxes and the relatively new Aston Martins appeared to be the most competitive, with the Aintree lap-record of 1:58.8 being broken.[5][4][6][3] Jack Brabham achieved pole position with a time of 1:58.[5][6][3] Directly behind him was Aston Martin's Roy Salvadori, with BRM's Harry Schell lining up third.[5][6][3] BRM driver and title contender Stirling Moss in contrast struggled, qualifying only seventh, while Brooks was down in 17th out of 24 competitors.[5][6][3]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1959 British Grand Prix commenced on 18th July.[3] Brabham made a strong start, while Salvadori lost numerous places.[5] The Aston Martins were already out of contention when the cars' fuel tank overflow caused fuel to spray onto Carroll Shelby, forcing pitstops for him and Salvadori to ensure the filler cap was shut properly.[5] Elsewhere, Brabham extended his lead, with BRM's Harry Schell leading five other drivers in a tense battle for second.[5] Moss made it past Schell, and the two BRM drivers built a gap from the others as they lapped backmarkers who were blocking the action by engaging in their own duel.[5][4] Brooks retired after 13 laps due to a misfire, while Moss set about reducing Brabham's 17 second lead.[5][4][3] He attempted this by continually setting new lap records, but Brabham still managed to maintain a gap ranging from 14-16 seconds.[5] By lap 35, Brabham was now lapping at the same speed as Moss.[5]

By lap 45, Moss had reduced to gap to 10.5 seconds, but was struggling to make any further gains.[5] His hard work was squandered after 50 laps when he was forced to make an unplanned pitstop to replace a rear wheel, enabling Brabham to lead by 53 seconds after 54 laps.[5][4] Moss set another lap record and was on course to reduce the gap from Brabham by two seconds per lap.[5][3] However, even this would not be enough to challenge the Australian with so few laps remaining.[5] Instead, with nine laps remaining, Moss was forced to make another unscheduled stop for a fuel, and this time it meant that Cooper-Climax's Bruce McLaren, who was running firmly in third, was now in second.[5][4][6] Moss managed to overtake the New Zealander two laps later, but despite setting another lap record of 1:57.0, was still being pursued by McLaren.[5][4][6][3] McLaren himself set the exact same time as Moss, and by lap 71 was level with the BRM and remained level-pegging for the duration of the race.[5][4][6][3]

Meanwhile, Brabham comfortably claimed victory and eight points in the Drivers' Championship, having led every lap of the event.[5][4][6][3] Moss would beat McLaren by two tenths of a second to claim second and third respectively, with both sharing the fastest lap point.[4][5][6][3] The race is one of nine where two or more drivers jointly set the fastest lap.[7] At 21 years and 322 days, McLaren became the youngest driver to post the fastest lap in a Formula One race, a record that stood until Fernando Alonso broke it at the 2003 Canadian Grand Prix, being a day younger than when McLaren did it.[7] Shell and Cooper-Climax's Maurice Trintignant claimed the final points positions of fourth and fifth respectively.[3][5][6]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to Issue 1,861 of Radio Times, the race received partial live coverage from the BBC as part of Summer Grandstand, with coverage split into several sections for a combined 70 minutes.[8][9][10] The broadcast has yet to publicly resurface, but footage of the race can be found in newsreels and documentaries.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

Colour footage of the race from a British documentary.
British Pathé newsreel of the race.
Footage from a 16mm film.

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]