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Architects of F1
That fact that the second incarnation of the famous partnership will have so much to live up to owes everything to the efforts of those at the centre of the original era of success in the late 1980s to 1990s not least the celebrated driving talents of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. However, the man whose craft and career long penchant for creation and innovation flowed through these iconic red and white liveried cars was Gordon Murray, a true Architect of F1.
The effect was immediate: drivers John Watson and Niki Lauda qualified second and third on the grid and the latter won the race by half a minute. Rivals were left reeling, though, and while a protest against the car's legality was ultimately thrown out and it was cleared to race for the rest of the season, Ecclestone decided that discretion was the better part of valour and withdrew the design from action at the next race in France. Murray's astonishing innovation therefore proved F1's ultimate one hit wonder.
That proved the peak of Brabham's success, however, and by 1986, following struggles with Murray's reliability plagued low line BT55 and the death of Elio de Angelis in a testing accident at Paul Ricard, the South African was ready for a fresh challenge.
Born Adidas Energy Boost 2 Pink in the South African city of Durban in 1946, Murray's road to becoming one of motorsport's most renowned technical figures began, fittingly, with a mechanical engineering diploma. Indeed, it didn't take the motor racing enthusiast long to turn his hand to both designing and racing cars; Murray competed in the national sportscar class in his own IGM Ford in the National Class in Adidas Duramo 7 Trail Men's Running Shoes
Wins three in total for Reutemann came the following season with the BT44 and then second place in the World Championship in 1975. In an era in which the understanding of downforce was accelerating all the time, and after the advent of ground effect courtesy of Chapman, it was mid way through 1978 when Murray delivered arguably his most dramatic and famous innovation of all the Brabham 'fan car'.
At the start of the 1973 season Murray, still only 26, was promoted to the role of Technical Director by a certain Bernie Ecclestone, Brabham's relatively new and ambitious owner. Murray's first car, the BT42, was Adidas Energy Boost 2 Lowest Price
Indeed, while now well into his seventh decade, Murray continues to operate at the cutting edge of technology and design with his own company focusing on the development and technology behind small, more carbon efficient city cars.
Two more Drivers'/Constructors' Championship doubles followed in 1989 and 1990 but with his original three year promise to Dennis now fulfilled, Murray's next challenge took him away from F1 and into McLaren's new road car division. Unsurprisingly, the South African's time was similarly groundbreaking as he first delivered the revolutionary McLaren F1 supercar and, later on, the Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren.
iconic McLaren Honda MP4/4 the challenger which in Prost and Senna's hands won all but one of the 1988 season's 16 rounds.
With what were themselves innovative surface radiators having failed to cool the engine on the original BT46 for that season, Brabham left the rest of the paddock open mouthed when they turned up at the Swedish Grand Prix with a giant fan on the back of the new look BT46B. The dramatic innovation had two purposes: to cool the car in a way that the surface radiators had failed to do and, crucially, generate more downforce by effectively sucking the car to the ground.
But there was plenty more sustained success to come for the Murray/Brabham combination. In 1981, rising star Nelson Piquet delivered the team's first Drivers' Championship since Denny Hulme some 14 years earlier, the Brazilian taking three wins in the BT49 to beat Brabham's former driver Reutemann, now at Williams, to the crown by a single point. Piquet would become a double champion two years later with BMW turbo power allied to Murray's latest creation.
As was the case with a number of budding racing drivers who would go on to make a name for themselves, Murray soon travelled to the UK to further his career in the business apparently selling all of his belongings to finance the journey to take up what he thought would be a job with Colin Chapman at Lotus. However, amid the UK's economic problems of 1969, the position never actually materialised although one at rivals Brabham soon did after Murray inadvertently ended up in an interview with Ron Tauranac on a visit to the factory. A 17 year relationship between team and designer was born.
Despite not appearing to be the most obvious of F1 bedfellows, Murray ended up at Ron Dennis's McLaren team where he committed to a strict three year programme. Heading up the technical team with responsibilities across the board from design to strategy and post race analysis, Murray and American designer Steve Nichols' first car in partnership was the Adidas Duramo 6 White Leather
not only immediately eye catching given it was built around a monocoque that featured a triangular cross section, but competitive too, as it served to propel Brabham up from ninth to fourth in the Constructors' Championships with two podium finishes for Carlos Reutemann along the way.
Cherished memories of Formula 1 fans of a certain vintage were awakened earlier this year when McLaren announced that they would be reforming their once all conquering engine partnership with Honda in 2015.
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