Cooper powers Jack Brabham to the title
The old order changed for ever when Jack Brabham took his Cooper-Climax to the 1959 championship. It was the first title for a rear-engined car, marking a triumph of handling over power. The revolution started here.
The big news of the winter was the surprise withdrawal of the Vanwall team, just as it had reached full competitiveness. But Cooper, BRM and Lotus upheld British honour. After the previous year's tragedies there were big changes at Ferrari. Brooks joined from Vanwall and Behra from BRM, while Phil Hill - an occasional Ferrari driver in 1958 - went full time. Moss kept his options open, and would appear in both Walker's Cooper-Climax, and a BRM in the colours of the British Racing Partnership.
With Argentina cancelled, the series opened at Monaco. Behra's Ferrari led until retiring, and then Moss's nimble Cooper expired, leaving Brabham to score his first win in the works Cooper. Zandvoort saw a major surprise, as Jo Bonnier notched up BRM's first victory, nine years after the marque made its first, stumbling steps. Ferrari fought back with a fine win for Brooks at Reims, team-mate Hill following him home. Moss was in the BRP BRM on this occasion, and was battling for second when he went off the road. Three marques had won the first three races, but Cooper was back in the frame at Aintree as Brabham scored his second win, ahead of Moss's BRM. Stirling just held off young Kiwi Bruce McLaren - the second works Cooper driver was starting to make a name for himself. Ferrari did not turn up, blaming Italian industrial action.
For the first and only time the German Grand Prix was held on the daunting, banked Avus circuit in Berlin and, uniquely, the result was an aggregate of two 30-lap heats. Missing Aintree had obviously done Ferrari some good, for Brooks dominated the event. But, as at Reims the year before, Ferrari's celebration was muted by tragedy. Veteran Behra, who had been a mainstay of the championship since its inception, died after a crash in the sports car support race.
Moss had to wait until the Portuguese race to pick up his first win of the year in Walker's Cooper. Brabham crashed out, but still led the championship as the circus moved to the penultimate race at Monza. Moss won again, ahead of Hill, while third place for Brabham kept his title challenge alive. It was a full three months before the final race, the first ever US Grand Prix, and the only one to be held on the Sebring airfield track in Florida, home of the famous 12 hours sports car race. Moss could still lift the crown and, after taking pole, he was leading comfortably when his gearbox failed.
Brabham ran out of fuel and had to push his car home in fourth place, but the title was his come what may. A surprise win went to his team-mate McLaren, who at 22 became the youngest Grand Prix winner - a record which still stands. Trintignant was second in another Cooper, ahead of Brooks.