The return of Brabham... Maybe
The name Brabham has been synonymous in motorsport for nearly 60 years and especially Formula One. Founded by Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac in 1960, they achieved success in 1966 and 1967 with Jack himself and Denny Hulme winning the drivers and taken over the constructors’ titles as well. Thus making Brabham the only person to this day winning the Drivers’ Championship in his own car.
After a decline in the late 60’s and early 70’s, a man by the name Bernie Ecclestone bought the team from Tauranac and started to rebuild the team back to its competitive edge during the mid 70’s to the early 80’s. Under his leadership, Brabham won two more drivers’ titles in 1981 and 1983 with Nelson Piquet before again enter another decline. Bernie sold the team in 1988 to focus more on the commercial aspect of Formula One to a Japanese firm Middlebridge Group before closing down midway through the 1992 season.
Besides the world championships they won, Brabham also famous for their innovations in Formula One with Gordon Murray introducing the infamous Brabham BT46B “Fan car” in 1978 before it was banned after its first and only race. Introducing pit stop in 1982, carbon brakes, and hydropneumatic suspension.
After their demise from Formula One, the Brabham name still grows within the motorsport world. Jack Brabham’s son David, Geoff and Gary all venture into motorsport. David competed in Formula One in 1990 for his father’s team and the troubled Simtek outfit in 1994, although talented, David’s talent couldn’t be transferred on track because of bad machinery. Put aside his Formula One days, David is extremely successful in sportscar racing taking overall victory in the 2009 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans including his other two class wins at Circuit de La Sarthe and a further four class wins at the Sebring 12 Hours. He also won two ALMS , a JGTC title in 1996 and the Bathurst 1000 in 1997 with his brother Geoff.
The same can be said with Geoff, alongside his brother David, Geoff is also a successful sportscar driver winning the Can-Am Championship in 1981 before dominating IMSA GTP for four straight years from 1988 to 1991. In 1993, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Peugeot. He also has a successful venture at home with a Sandown 500 victory in 1993 and like I mentioned above winning the Bathurst 1000 in 1997 with David.
Gary is the least successful of the three but also achieved a considerable amount of success in motorsport. After being part of the ill-fatal Life project in Formula One, Gary moved to sportscar racing as well and in 1991 winning the Sebring 12 Hours with his brother Geoff.
Now, the name Brabham is back in motorsport with Geoff’s son Matthew and David’s son Sam who is competing in different categories around the world. Back in 2014, David Brabham created “Project Brabham” with plans to compete in the LMP2 class of the WEC and fielding a team in Formula E via crowdfunding but the project didn’t materialized.
But there is some interesting development going on, the name Brabham can be back in Formula One sooner than all of us are expecting. But how?
Well, why Force India? Outside it seems perfect for India’s only Formula One outfit with the team surging to a best finish of fourth last year in the constructors and continuing their fine form in this year. Force India is now currently in fourth again in the constructors after the first four rounds of the season and the leading midfield runners. With new sponsorship from BWT joining the fray and a talented duo of Perez and Ocon, it seems all so perfect except for the team’s head of management.
As you heard recently, team founder and managing director Vijay Mallya was arrested by the Scotland Yard and prepares to be extradited back to India because of business related issues with $1.35 billion in debt. Thought that was bad enough, team’s chairman Subrata Roy and also owner of Sahara India (the team’s biggest investor) also in financial issues with $3.7 billion in debt to his investors. Both own 42.5% of the team’s shares while the Mol family has the other 15%. With news quick to react that the team starting to sell the shares of both Subrata and Vijay around $200-230 millions.
Things also take to another interesting twist with David Brabham leading the fray with US investors to buy the team. With plans to make the team running a McLaren-like business model, the team will be used to promote their future supercars production as well. Although David denied to make any comments on the situation, any rumors that get denied might be closer to be truth.
If anything goes south, Liberty Media would do anything do facilitate a sale for the team. It would make both Formula One and Liberty Media look pretty bad to lose probably the sport’s biggest underdog right now. At this moment, Force India still looking pretty decent and they can stretch their run for a couple of years netting of funds for their team. Liberty Media also wants to ditch the unbalance payments to teams so it wouldn’t be a big concern for them.
A sale to bring back the Brabham name might be what the sport wants. Liberty Media wants to honor the roots of Formula One and what better way to do it than to bring back a famous name into the foray. It’s what the leaders of the sport want, and it is also what the fan want as well. Having the name Brabham back will be right into their plans for the future of Formula One.
As of right now, it looks like it will be Force India for some more time but given the right circumstances, we will see Brabham back on the grid not far from now like countless concept we have seen. Under the guise of a competitive outfit.