And on his first GP there in 1957, he put in an excellent efficiency that grabbed consideration and helped set him on his method to the highest of the game – in affiliation with Avon Tyres.
It was his first full season as an F1 driver with Cooper, however the British crew didn’t but have a automotive to maximise the two.5-litre engine laws. As a substitute, Brabham had the T43, which was run as each an F1 and F2 automotive, with a two-litre model of the Climax FPF powerplant.
However, operating Avon tyres rather than his standard rubber, Brabham took benefit of the agile Cooper and a dramatic race to practically rating a exceptional podium.
Issues didn’t begin nicely. Brabham was late to the observe and had a problem with the brakes, which contributed to a crash in apply. That meant he needed to take over Les Leston’s automotive, and Brabham lined up close to the again of the 16-car subject.
Brabham quickly, nevertheless, moved by the pack, helped by a dramatic accident on the entrance.
Stirling Moss had grabbed the lead at first however on lap 5 he arrived on the chicane too quick, presumably attributable to a brake drawback. The Vanwall struck some telegraph poles and within the ensuing accident the Ferraris of Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn had been additionally broken past speedy restore.
“I used to be behind them and I can solely keep in mind a giant cloud of smoke and dirt and straw in every single place, huge black strains reaching proper down previous the chicane,” mentioned Brabham in his autobiography When the Flag Drops. “They had been fairly fortunate to get out of that.”
A number of different drivers additionally made early errors, permitting the Avon-shod Cooper to achieve extra locations. Brabham obtained the higher of Ron Flockhart’s BRM and rose as excessive as fourth within the first half of the race earlier than having to cease for gas. In addition to being down on energy, this alternative Cooper didn’t have the additional, long-range gas tank fitted so couldn’t run the race continuous, in contrast to the opposite runners.
Brabham however quickly repassed Masten Gregory’s Maserati for fourth after the pitstop. When the engine of Wolfgang von Journeys’s Ferrari failed within the closing phases, the diminutive Cooper was promoted to 3rd. The one vehicles forward now had been the extra highly effective Maserati of Juan Manuel Fangio Maserati and the Vanwall of Tony Brooks.
Brabham’s quickest lap was only one.6 seconds slower than Fangio’s, whereas he’d been greater than 6s away in apply, and an excellent podium end on solely his third world championship begin regarded in sight.
Then the Climax engine stopped. “The gas pump drive had failed,” defined Brabham. “I coasted excessive of the hill and down previous the station to the waterfront, and got here to a halt simply earlier than the tunnel.”
However Brabham wasn’t carried out simply but: “In these days I didn’t wish to be crushed, so I obtained out of the automotive and pushed, I used to be keen!”
After three hours of racing round one of many world’s most punishing circuits, Brabham pushed the Cooper by the tunnel to the chicane, as much as Tabac, and alongside the harbour aspect to succeed in the end, to tumultuous applause.
“The worst factor about pushing the automotive dwelling wasn’t a lot the exhaustion as dropping third place,” added Brabham. “And the actually scary half was going by the tunnel with all these highly effective nice vehicles screaming previous at the hours of darkness!”
He was labeled sixth, one place exterior the factors, however had made his mark. “That was the beginning of Cooper’s success in grand prix racing,” reckoned Brabham.
Race of My Life: Jack Brabham on the 1960 French GP
Autosport’s founding editor and GP reporter Gregor Grant agreed: “Sensational can be the very best phrase to explain Brabham and the swiftly rebuilt Cooper. His was one of many basic performances in motor racing that delighted everybody.”
Two years later, Brabham would win the race for Cooper on his method to his first world title.