Jack Brabham wins under new regulations
It was all change in 1966 as the 3-litre formula was introduced and there was a race to get new engines ready in time. Jack Brabham was better prepared than most and earned a deserved third championship title in his own car.
Teams and engine builders were busy through the winter as they prepared for the new formula. There was no pukka new engine from Climax, so existing customers had to find their own solutions.
The man who did the best job was Jack Brabham. He announced he was using a new V8 from the Australian Repco company. The engine was not the most powerful, but it was reliable, light and compact, and mated well with an updated version of Brabham's existing chassis. Jack had not won a race himself since 1960, and the package was to give his career a new lease of life. With Dan Gurney moving on, Denny Hulme became his number two. Cooper had a more exotic solution, mating a Maserati V12 to a new chassis. Richie Ginther and Jochen Rindt were the works drivers, and Rob Walker bought one for Siffert. Ex-Cooper driver Bruce McLaren followed Brabham's example and set up his own team. Another driver to copy the Brabham example was Gurney, whose All-American Racers concern built the neat Eagle.
It was no surprise to see Ferrari follow the V12 route, and the Scuderia produced a promising new car for John Surtees. Lorenzo Bandini stayed on as his team-mate. Both BRM and Lotus had to use uprated 2-litre versions of their V8 and Climax engines. BRM had an unusual H16 under development, but it did not race until late in the year. That said, it started very well at Monaco where less powerful cars proved a match for the new machinery. Clark took pole but had an unlucky race, while Stewart won for BRM. Spa turned to chaos when eight cars retired on the wet first lap, among them Stewart, who had the worst crash of his Formula One career. Surtees won after overcoming a challenge from Rindt's Cooper-Maserati. A few weeks later John fell out with the Italian team and left to join Cooper.
The new Brabham-Repco came good at Reims, Jack winning after Bandini had retired. Brabham won again at Brands Hatch, with team-mate Hulme second. Jack picked up a third win at Zandvoort. Brabham's winning streak continued at the Nurburgring, where he held off the Coopers of Surtees and Rindt. His luck ran out at Monza, where he retired. Ferrari newcomer Ludovico Scarfiotti won. Despite retiring in Italy, Brabham had clinched his third title. He was on pole at Watkins Glen, but retired. Clark won. Cooper-Maseratis finished second, third and fourth, and their form continued in the finale in Mexico, won by Surtees.