Thoughts on Cooper
Today, Christmas Eve 2010, is the 10th anniversary of the death of the innovative designer and team boss John Cooper.
Cooper is very much one of the forgotten great teams in F1 history these days. They brought the rear-engined car into F1, quickly revolutionising car design, and went on to take back-to-back titles in 1959 and 1960, annoying Ferrari in the process. The new rules brought in in 1961 appeased the Scuderia but Cooper took a hit and never recovered, with only 3 wins after. The decline can partly be explained by outside events – John Cooper was injured in a road accident in 1963, his father and the company’s co-founder Charles died in 1964 and as a result John sold the team in 1965.
But despite this rapid decline, their stats are still pretty good – 16 wins and 58 podiums in 129 races, which, given that they didn’t win until their 58th race, is a pretty impressive strike rate. For a brief period, they were one of the big powerhouses in F1 and it is a shame that it petered out so quickly. The last win came at South Africa in 1967, with Pedro Rodriguez in a works car stealing victory from John Love in an old privately-run Cooper. The last podium came at Monaco in 1968 courtesy of Lucien Bianchi, while the last appearance of a Cooper was in Canada the following year, courtesy of a private entry from Vic Elford, the team having already pulled out at the end of the previous year.
The name lives on, though, with links to BMW – the Cooper name is perhaps best known to the public in connection with the Mini, and this association still survives with the new car, with the John Cooper Works providing kits for it. They also now make bicycles named after F1 circuits the team won at.