30. Brabham BT49 1979

S4346 Brabham BT49 Practice Canadian GP 1979

Since 1976 Brabham was driving in the Formula 1 with Alfa Romeo V12- engines. But the cooperation was not stable anymore after almost four years. As Alfa has its own team racing since 1979, Brabham, especially team chef Bernie Ecclestone, felt disadvantaged. Also, because the Alfa motor was very heavy, thirsty and not always reliable. That’s why Brabham changed to Cosworth-engines with the Canadian GP, the 14th championship run of the season 1979. But even more, Ecclestone engaged Gordon Murray to construct a completely new car, the BT49 (the “B” is for Jack Brabham, the “T” for co-founder Ron Tauranac). This car was not only 38 cm shorter and 10 cm narrower as the previous model of the type BT48, above all it was 50 kg lighter. First of all because of the engine. But also because of lighter water and oil coolers. They had been almost double size in the Alfa motor. Murray could achieve a significant slimmer BT49 what can be seen easily in the comparison of the flatter side boxes. The construction of the young South African guy was used directly in Montreal without having done a big testing before. And slided in the background after the first training. Niki Lauda, whose model Spark was producing in 1/43 scale, was quitting surprisingly. The reason was not the new BT49, but he lost the passion for the Formula 1. Two years after he told in an interview: “I was fed up to see all these people in the Formula 1. I needed some holidays. I wanted to leave, because it was too boring for me.” Legendary as well is his saying: “I am tired of driving in a circle.” Even team chef Ecclestone was surprised by Lauda’s decision, but was somehow able to have a replacement driver within only a few hours: The Argentinian Ricardo Zunino who was in Montreal by pure chance and was driving in the Formula Aurora at that time. While Zunino finished his first race at seventh position, Piquet retired because of gear problems. Also 14 days later, Brabham couldn’t finish. Piquet had some transmission problems and Zunino because of a driving error. Even though Piquet was satisfied with the change to the BT49 and the Cosworth-DFV-V8-power. “The car was much easier to drive in comparison to the predecessor model. Not as heavy as before.” Piquet was correct. In 1980 he won 3 races with this car and became second in the world championship.



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