Sir Jackie Stewart has paid tribute to his on-track rival and friend Sir Jack Brabham, the three-time Formula One world champion who has died aged 88.
Australian Brabham passed away at his home on the Gold Coast yesterday morning. He won the F1 world title in 1959 and 1960 with the Cooper team and in 1966 in a car he had manufactured himself, the Brabham BT19, as well as taking the constructors’ crown in 1967.
Stewart – another three-time F1 title winner, with the first coming in 1969, Brabham’s penultimate season before retiring – said: “Jack was a fierce competitor and a modest and almost shy man, but a great three-time world champion who accomplished more than any other driver.
“Not only did he win the world championship three times, but he won driving his own car, which is a feat I suspect will never be matched.
“He was an extremely talented driver and very deceptively fast,” Stewart added. “He was also a very aggressive driver and probably one of the most difficult men to overtake – never apparently blocking intentionally, but somehow or other he was incredibly difficult to pass. He was a hugely important part of motor-racing history.”
Sir Stirling Moss, who competed against Brabham in the Fifties and Sixties, said: “My career would have been considerably less without him.
“Every race – and I’m talking 50-odd times a year – we would fight against each other. I remember in New Zealand in the early Fifties, I had a problem with my back axle. The first person that came up was Jack and he said ‘take it off my spare car’, knowing very well that there was a good chance I might beat him. That sums him up to me – a real sportsman and a good Aussie.”
McLaren executive chairman Ron Dennis also paid tribute to Brabham, who he described as a "legend".
Dennis said: "He remains the only driver to win a Formula One world championship driving a car bearing his own name - a unique achievement that will surely never be matched.
"When I started out in Formula One in the late 1960s, I worked first for Cooper and then for Brabham. Even as a callow youth, I could recognise greatness when I saw it, and I'll always regard it as an honour and a privilege to have worked for Sir Jack. I learned a lot from him too.
"So, on behalf of all at McLaren, I'd like to pay tribute to one of the most illustrious names in motor racing history, and above all to extend heartfelt condolences to Sir Jack's widow Margaret and his three sons Geoff, David and Gary.
"Sir Jack Brabham, legend, RIP."
Former F1 commentator Murray Walker said: "It is a sad day. He travelled over to Britain from Australia at a time when that journey was more demanding than it is now.
"It was Jack's engineering skill that made the Cooper so successful. As well as being an outstanding driver - just a small fraction down from the very best - he was a very skilled engineer and a very astute businessman."