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Classic F1: The Revolutionaries – Cooper

Through the 50s formula One cars were built with their engines at the front. The power output was complicated and relied on four-wheel-drive. Although the engines were powerful and spectacular, the cars were heavy and handled poorly. At the time, this was considered the only way to build a Formula One car, but a small British car company named Cooper had other ideas.

At the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix, the R.R.C. Walker Racing Team entered a rear engined Cooper car, the T43. At the wheel, Australian Jack Brabham drove to an impressive sixth placed finish which raised the eyebrows of engineers the world over.

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The Cooper T43 is a regular at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Sticking the engine in the back enabled the use of a much lighter rear-wheel-drive system. This gave the car much better handling characteristics which helped Brabham around the infamously tight Monaco circuit. This performance advantage yielded a first victory for the T43 in 1958 with Stirling Moss.

As other teams began working furiously to catch up, Cooper easily won both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ championship with a revamped Cooper T51 in 1959 and 1960. The superiority of their car was now such that the team scored several 1-2 finishes during the season, winning six races overall.

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The rear-engined Cooper T51

Cooper revolutionised car design on a monumental level. It was clear from that point that there was more to going fast than just brute power. An ability to take a higher speed into corners was equally important.

Every championship winning car since then has been a rear engined machine.

SiOstler

I am currently training to become a Journalist. I write best when my subject is something I enjoy.

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