PEOPLE: MAURICE PHILIPPE
Name: Maurice Philippe
Nationality: Great Britain
Maurice Philippe was bought up in Edmonton in East London and educated at Latymer School in Hammersmith. He won an apprenticeship with the De Havilland aircraft company in Hatfield. At the time the company's technical department boasted a lot of racing enthusiasts, including Frank Costin and Brian Hart. They were members of the 750 Motor Club and in 1955 Philippe built his own racing car - called the MPS (Maurice Philippe Special). While racing in his spare time, Philippe helped to develop the wing structures for the Comet 4 aircraft.
His next racing project came at the end of the 1950s when he joined forces with Hart and Len Terry to build a front-engined Formula Junior car called the Delta. This was crashed on its debut by driver Peter Warr.
Philippe then left De Havilland to become a development engineer on the Ford Anglia engine. He continued to race a Lotus 7 in 1963 and 1964 and in September 1965 was asked by Lotus boss Colin Chapman to be "the design team" at Team Lotus. Working with Chapman he redesigned the Lotus 39, and then produced the BRM-engined Lotus 43 for the latter part of the 1966 season. The next design was the classic Lotus 49 which served the team with enormous success until 1970. In the interim Philippe was involved in the design of Lotus turbine cars at Indianapolis and in experiments in four-wheel drive. This was followed by the Lotus 72, another dramatic F1 car which enjoyed great success until the end of 1975.
In 1972, however, Philippe left Lotus and went to work for Parnelli Jones's USAC team with the long-term intention of entering F1 racing in 1974. The USAC program was only moderately successful in 1972 and 1973 with drivers Joe Leonard, Al Unser and Mario Andretti. At the end of the year Parnelli stopped building his own cars and bought Eagle chassis from Dan Gurney. Philippe designed the Cosworth-engined Parnelli VPJ4 for F1 and this appeared at the end of the 1974 season and was raced throughout 1975 by Mario Andretti. Parnelli also ran a successful Formula 5000 program with Viceroy-backed Lolas for Unser and Andretti, the pair finishing second and third in the championship.
Philippe spent a couple of years working as a freelance designer before being hired in 1978 to replace Derek Gardner as chief designer at Tyrrell. His first Tyrrell was the 008 which was raced by Patrick Depailler and Didier Pironi. The team finished fourth in the Constructors Championship. The Tyrrell 009 was a ground-effect car for the 1979 season and was less successful but scored four third places in the hands of Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jarier. The Tyrrell 010 followed in 1980 and, because money was short, in modified form in 1981, 1982 and 1983. In the hands of Michele Alboreto it won the Las Vegas GP in 1982 and Detroit in 1983.
Philippe's next new car did not appear until 1984 but showed well on occasion, despite being powered by a normally-aspirated Cosworth engine, in the hands of Martin Brundle and Stefan Bellof - although all Tyrrell results that year were later canceled by the FIA due to rule infringements. The cars that followed were powered by Renault turbo engines but never delivered the results that the team had hoped for. The team switched back to Cosworth engines in 1987. This was encouraging but the 1988 season was not a success and at the end of the year Philippe was replaced by Harvey Postlethwaite. He set up his own design consultancy business and designed the March-Alfa Indycar 89CR but he died before the car ran for the first time in June 1989.