Welcome to another week of TheJudge13 F1 Bar Exam.
Last week’s question(s): Can you name the driver, team, race and track where the photo was taken. Can you also name the car (type) and where the driver finished in the race?
The answer(s) I was looking for were: The driver was Belgian Lucien Bianchi driving the T86B-BRM for Cooper during the 1968 United States Grand Prix held at Watkins Glen. Bianchi qualified 19th but was not classified although still running at the end of the race having completed 88 laps, less than 90% of the race.
Observing the demise of what was once an illustrious and ground-breaking marque can be a sobering experience. The Cooper Car Company had achieved two Driver’s Championships and two Constructors’ Championships over their 18 years of competition and had been 3rd in the Constructor’s Championship the two previous years, but 1968 would prove to be their final year of competition.
Their rapid collapse was accelerated by the abrupt change in the playing field that occurred with the first appearance on the grid of the Ford-Cosworth DFV engine in the Lotus 49 which won its inaugural race at the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix. Colin Chapman had an exclusive deal for the innovative and powerful engine for 1967 but in 1968 anyone who was willing to pay 7500 pounds for the privilege could purchase one.
Even before the commencement of the season it was evident that if you wanted to be competitive in 1968 you would require a Cosworth DFV on your shopping list.
For Cooper the decision about their engine manufacturer wasn’t just a question of money or exclusive engine deals. They had close ties to British Motor Holdings which had merged with Jaguar in 1966. If they changed to a Ford-Cosworth engine they would be selling out to the opposition.
They made the decision to change from the ageing and weighty Maserati engine that had been struggling for pace in 1967 to the BRM V12 hoping that it would be able to rival the Cosworth DFV. Team manager Roy Salvadori strongly disagreed with this decision which resulted in him leaving the team to return to running his car dealership.
In their final year Cooper struggled to attract any star drivers and used multiple drivers over the course of the season. One of these were Belgium Lucien Bianchi who had only driven a smattering of Formula One races over the years but had been more successful racing sports cars.
Initially the team had reasonably good finishing results despite struggling to qualify in the top half of the field. This was aided by engine reliability and Bianchi got into the points in his first two races, one of which included his best ever finish in F1, a 3rd place at Monaco albeit 4 laps down on the winner in a race with a high attrition of drivers ahead of him. Bianchi continued to race sports cars during the year, the high point of which was driving his Ford GT40 to a win at the 24 hours of Le Mans.
The Cosworth DFV dominated the podium places with only Ferrari’s win at the French Grand Prix preventing a clean sweep of winning every race of the season. At the penultimate round at Watkins Glen both Coopers would finish the race but neither was classified due to covering less than 90% of the race distance.
The departure of Cooper came quickly and quietly. No announcement was ever made; they just failed to turn up to race in 1969. Running a team had become increasingly expensive and losing the money from the sale of their customer cars cost them dearly as the privateer teams switched over to the more competitive options of Lotus and Brabham.
Even long term client Rob Walker Racing had switched to the race and championship winning Lotus 49. By the time Cooper discovered that loyalty doesn’t win championships it was all too late. Ironically, over three decades later when Jaguar fielded their own Formula One team they utilised Ford-Cosworth engines…
The last race for a Cooper car would be at the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix when ex-Cooper driver Vic Elford qualified last (8 seconds slower than pole) and finished last (6 laps adrift from the winner) for the privateer team Antique Automobiles run by Colin Crabbe.
Lucien Bianchi was killed in 1969 while testing his Alfa Romeo T33 during Le Mans testing when his car left the track on the Mulsanne Straight and hit a telegraph pole, the car exploding and killing him instantly. Current Marussia (or future Ferrari driver in training) Julies Bianchi is a nephew of Lucien Bianchi.
Below is a video of a Cooper T86 driving out of the pits
Well done to The13thDuke, Taflach, Tony, Milestone11, Johnny, Cassius42, GuyIncognito, Bernard and Oliver!
This week’s question(s): Can you name the driver, team, race and track where the photo was taken. Can you also name the car (type) and where the driver finished in the race?
Please provide your answers in the field below: