Jack Brabham in a Cooper won the season-opening Monaco Grand Prix, the first Australian to win a Formula One race. A week earlier he had signaled his intent with victory in the International Trophy Meeting at Silverstone.
The fall-out from 1958 was being felt as the roadshow reassembled in Monte Carlo. Mike Hawthorn, the champion, was dead. Vanwall, the constructors' champion, was in effect gone, and in its absence Stirling Moss had no team, declining a drive with Ferrari although Tony Brooks had taken the offer. On the plus side, Aston Martin announced a limited programme of Formula One racing with the DBR4.
There was no Argentine Grand Prix to kick things off, so the season did not start until May. Moss finally decided to return to drive for Rob Walker's private team in a Cooper Climax with an engine developed from a motor used as a wartime fire pump. He put the car on pole but it was Jean Behra who took the lead at the start in his Ferrari. He was chased by Moss and Brabham.
As had happened so often in 1958, Moss was undone by his car, transmission problems allowing Brabham to take the lead and then setting a new lap record for good measure. Brooks finished second for Ferrari ahead of Maurice Trintignant, Phil Hill and Bruce McLaren.
In the absence of the Vanwalls, British interest centred on the BRMS - all three retired.