Piers Courage  Great Britain

  • Full name Piers Raymond Courage
  • Birth date May 27, 1942
  • Birthplace Colchester, Essex, Great Britain
  • Date of death June 21, 1970 (28 years 25 days)
  • Place of death Zandvoort, Netherlands
  • Teams Brabham, BRM, De Tomaso, Team Lotus
driver portrait
World Championship Career
Year Car Race Start Won Pod Class Best Pole Front Best Lap Hat Pts Pos
1967 Team Lotus, BRM 3 2 0 0 0 - 0 0 13 0 0 0 -
1968 BRM 11 11 0 0 4 4 0 0 7 0 0 4 20
1969 Brabham 10 10 0 2 5 2 0 0 4 0 0 16 8
1970 De Tomaso 5 4 0 0 0 - 0 0 9 0 0 0 -
Total 29 27 0 2 9 2 0 0 4 0 0 20
Race Circuit Date
First race South African Grand Prix Kyalami January 2, 1967 Race results
Last race Dutch Grand Prix Zandvoort June 21, 1970 Race results

Piers Courage came from a privileged background - he was the heir to the Courage brewing empire and was educated at Eton - and eased into racing in his own car, a Lotus. He first raced in 1962, and after dabbling with Formula 3 in 1964, he committed to a full season in 1965 with Lucas, during which he teamed up with mechanic Frank Williams (Lucas's other driver).

Colin Chapman offered him a drive with Lotus in 1966, but he crashed in a pre-season event in Buenos Aires, sustaining serious burns. In 1967 he switched to BRM, but it proved a misguided move. Courage's erratic style, which had always been an issue, led to him being sidelined after the Monaco GP. That winter, in a McLaren he bought privately, he did well in the Tasman series, leading to him being offered an F1 drive with Reg Parnell Racing. The partnership was more fruitful, with a sixth in France and then a fourth in Italy, and at the same time he drove in Formula 2 for Williams' new team.

When Williams made the move into F1 in 1969, Courage came with him, and driving a Brabham he recorded two second-place finishes, at the Monaco and the US Grand Prix. Many consider his drive at Imola, when he matched higher-powered rivals almost throughout before finishing fifth, to have been the best of his career.

Williams switched to a new De Tomaso in 1970, but the car was uncompetitive and unreliable, and Courage's only high was third place in a non-Championship race. At the Dutch GP in June he qualified in ninth, but on the 23rd lap Courage lost control, hit an embankment, rolled and burst into flames. The car's magnesium bodyshell burned so ferociously that nearby woods were set alight, hampering attempts to rescue him. It later emerged that Courage was probably already dead before the fire as he had been struck on the helmet by one of his loose tyres.

Martin Williamson November 2009

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