Champion of Champions: Jack Brabham vs Phil Hill

Jack Brabham vs Phil Hill

Champion of ChampionsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Champion of Champions: Jack Brabham vs Phil Hill

Jack Brabham showed F1 the future was rear-engined when he won two world championships with Cooper in 1959 and 1960.

At that time Phil Hill was on the other side of the technical divide and scored the final Grand Prix victory for a front-engined car, before going on to succeed Brabham as champion.

Hill drove for Ferrari’s sports car team but was eager to make the switch to F1 – so much so that he borrowed a Maserati belonging to Jo Bonnier to make his debut at Reims in 1958.

Ferrari took note and gave him a shot in the race team. Hill paid that back by helping Mike Hawthorn to the 1958 title by pulling over for him in the last race of the season.

Brabham spent the early part of his career developing the rear-engined Cooper. By 1959 the writing was on the wall for the front-engined Ferraris as Brabham won the first of his titles. He made it back-to-back championships the following year after a string of five consecutive wins.

Hill scored his first F1 win at Monza that year in a last hurrah for Ferrari’s 246, though it came as several rival entries boycotted the race, including Brabham’s Cooper.

Ferrari were well-prepared for the switch to smaller-capacity engines in 1961 and Hill finished on the podium six times out of seven as he and team mate Wolfgang von Trips challenged for the title. Sadly, it was decided when von Trips was killed at Monza.

Both drivers made ambitious career changes after winning their titles – with radically different results.

Hill and a group of mechanics left Ferrari en masse to set up a new team, ATS, for the 1963 season. This was a disastrous move for his career – the car was uncompetitive and unreliable, and after a further season with Cooper his Grand Prix career was effectively finished.

Brabham took the ambitious step of setting up his own team. Through the 1.5-litre engine era the car picked up points and podium finishes but was plagued by unreliability.

That all changed with the arrival of the Repco-engined BT19 in 1966 in time for the new 3.0-litre engine Formula. Brabham reeled off four wins and made history by becoming the first and so far only driver to win the championship in his own car.

The following year team mate Denny Hulme took the title off him. Now in his forties, Brabham continued racing until 1970. He won the first race of his final season at Kyalami and lost the lead on the last lap of two other races at Monaco and Brands Hatch.

Which of these drivers should go through to the next round of the Champion of Champions? Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Jack Brabham Phil Hill
Jack Brabham Phil Hill
Titles 1959, 1960, 1966 1961
Second in title year/s Tony Brooks, Bruce McLaren, John Surtees Wolfgang von Trips
Teams Cooper, Brabham Maserati, Ferrari, Yeoman Credit, ATS, Cooper
Notable team mates Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney, Denny Hulme Wolfgang von Trips, Richie Ginther, Tony Brooks
Starts 123 47
Wins 14 (11.38%) 3 (6.38%)
Poles 13 (10.57%) 6 (12.77%)
Modern points per start1 7.63 7.77
% car failures2 34.96 27.66
Modern points per finish3 11.74 10.74
Notes Back-to-back titles for Cooper in 1959 and 1960 Won championship in tragic circumstances when team mate von Trips was killed at Monza
Then becaqme only driver to win a championship in his own car Left Ferrari to join breakaway ATS team
Runner-up in 1967 to team mate Denny Hulme Never won another race after his championship season
Bio Jack Brabham Phil Hill

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Jack Brabham (98%)
  • Phil Hill (2%)

Total Voters: 521

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