The Commonwealth of Australia is a country that consists of the entirety of the Australian continent plus the surrounding islands, and was founded in 1901 upon the country's federation.
Prior to the Second World War, there had been absolutely no influence from Australia on the international racing community. Whilst Australia had hosted its own Grand Prix since 1928, the driver's competing within this event were purely domestic and were not known for competing outside of Australian events. The fact that Australia was geographically located so far away from the main interest in Grand Prix racing in Europe meant that it was not feasible for Australian driver's to compete internationally, especially during an era where global transport was not as easily accessible.
The first international recognition the Australian racing scene achieved was when British driver Peter Whitehead attended the 1938 Australian Grand Prix in his ERA B-Type. The race held at the famous Bathurst circuit saw Whitehead dominate his competition. The Australian competitors in their local machinery were no match for the much more advanced ERA chassis.
Following the Second World War, Australian influence on the international racing community slowly began to grow. Australia's first notable international racing driver was the war hero, Tony Gaze. Gaze had already gained recognition as one of Australia's tenth most successful flying aces, with an attributed 12.5 victories over German fighters in a Supermarine Spitfire along the Western Front during the war.
Whilst serving in Britain for the RAF during the war, Gaze had gained an interest in motor racing after watching hill climb events. After the conclusion of the war Gaze remained in Britain to begin his motor racing career. In 1948, Gaze helped to create the Goodwood Circuit, Gaze recommending the location of the circuit at the old RAF base of Westhampnett, the same base he was stationed at during the war. That same year Gaze returned to Australia to compete domestically in motor racing events, after success in his home country Gaze returned to Europe in 1951 where he began competing in Formula Two.
The following year a change in regulations for Formula One meant that Formula Two cars were now eligible to compete in Formula One races. As a result Gaze opted to compete in the Formula One season that year in a privately entered HWM-Alta. Gaze competed in the Belgian, British, German and Italian events that season, although he failed to qualify for the latter. His championship season was not particularly successful racing in the lower mid-field however he proved to be a pioneer in Australian motorsport, for the first time Australia had a representative in the top echelon in racing.
Following his Formula One career, Gaze went on to compete in International Sportscars before he made his retirement from racing in 1956. Gaze envisioned greater representation of Australian drivers within the European racing community, and in 1955 he established 'The Kangaroo Stable', a racing team designed to attract successful domestic Australian driver's to the international scene. One of these drivers was none other than Jack Brabham.
Brabham, a former mechanic and engineer turned racing driver had achieved considerable success in Australia, notably winning the 1955 Australian Grand Prix before opting to move to Britain to continue his career, at the behest of Tony Gaze. Brabham signed for the Cooper team where he mainly competed in Formula Two, but also competed in a number of non-championship F1 races and the 1955 British Grand Prix, therefore becoming the second Australian to compete in a championship event.
Brabham quickly gained attention from the F1 fraternity when he came close to finishing third at the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix before suffering a fuel pump failure at the end of the race. Brabham physically pushed his car across the line to finish in sixth position. 1957 also saw another Australian compete in a Formula One event: Paul England, a novice racer, entered a Formula Two car into the 1957 German Grand Prix, meaning for the first time multiple Australian driver's would enter a championship event.
1957 also saw the establishment of the Australian Drivers' Championship, a Formula Libre event which allowed a wide range of single seater cars to enter the championship. Among these cars allowed to be entered were Formula One cars, with a number of drivers purchasing old Cooper's and Maserati's to enter the championship. This meant for the first time Formula One cars would race within Australia. From 1958 to 1964, Jack Brabham was known for entering the series for the first and second round of the championship in his works Formula One car and team in either Cooper or Brabham prior to the beginning of the Formula One season.
In 1958, Brabham signed for the Cooper team full time in Formula One. Since 1955 Brabham had helped develop and envision a mid-engine Formula One car with the Cooper team. Prior to Brabham's arrival in Formula One all F1 cars had the engine positioned at the front of the car. Brabham noted that handling was significantly improved with the engine being placed behind the driver instead of in front of him. The mid-engined Cooper-Climax team had little success in its early years with its partnership with Brabham but in 1959 success finally came to the team. Brabham won the opening event at the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix. Brabham would also win the British Grand Prix that year and after an intense battle for the championship with the Ferrari of Tony Brooks and the Rob Walker Racing Cooper of Stirling Moss, Brabham won the driver's championship, becoming Australia's first Formula One world championship and being the first driver in history to not only win a grand prix race in a mid-engine car but also to win the championship.
Australian Formula One Drivers
|Adelaide Street Circuit||11||1985-1995|
|Albert Park Circuit||24||1996-2019|
Australian Formula One Broadcasters
|Nine Network F1||1985–2002|
|Network TEN F1||2003–present|