JUNE 4, 2009

The return of Brabham

An organisation called Brabham Grand Prix Team has applied for one of the F1 entries for 2010. The team is headed by German entrepreneur Franz Hilmer, the owner of Formtech GmbH, a machine tool business based in Niederwinkling in Germany. The company acquired many of the assets of the Super Aguri F1 team last year and will operate out of the Leafield Technical Centre, once the home of Arrows F1 and more recently Super Aguri. The technical team will be led by Mark Preston, formerly the technical director of Super Aguri and an engineer who started his F1 career at Arrows before moving to McLaren. The link with Brabham probably comes through him as he is an Australian.

The Brabham name has been linked to F1 since the mid-1950s when Australian Jack Brabham first appeared in the sport as a driver. He won the World Championship in 1959 and 1960 driving for Cooper and then joined forces with Ron Tauranac in 1961 to form Motor Racing Developments Ltd, which began to produce Brabham racing cars in 1962. The first Brabham F1 car appeared at the Nurburgring in July 1962 and the team scored its first World Championship points at Watkins Glen in October. The team finished third in the Constructors' Championship in 1963 and won its first victory with France in 1964 and in 1967 Jack Brabham became the first driver to win the World Championship in a car bearing his own name. The team won the title again in 1967 with Denny Hulme. Jack Brabham retired as a driver in 1970 and decided to return to Australia, selling the business to Tauranac. At the start of 1972 he sold the operation to Bernie Ecclestone. It took several years to become a top team again but in 1981 Nelson Piquet won the team's fourth world title, following up with a second title in 1983.

After that Ecclestone lost interest as he spent more time building up the commercial side of F1 and the team withdrew from F1 at the end of 1987. There were various attempts to revive the team after that with Swiss businessman Joachim Luhti, leading one and then a Japanese company called Middlebridge. The team disappeared finally in 1992.