• December 12 down the years

Brabham pushes his way to a championship

What happened on December 12 in Formula One history?
An exhausted Jack Brabham after pushing his car over the line to secure his first world championship © Getty Images
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1959
The final round of that year's championship took place at Sebring. Despite leading for the majority of the race, Jack Brabham ran out of fuel - stopping in sight of the flag. He had earlier refused his team manager's desperate pleadings for him to start on full tanks. Brabham could see his world championship slipping away - determined to finish he pushed his Cooper Climax a quarter of a mile uphill to cross the line in fourth position. He secured his and Copper's first world championship. Maurice Trintignant scored a point for the fastest lap - he became the last person to do this as the rule was scrapped for the following season. Bruce McLaren took his first race win becoming the youngest man to do so at the age of 22 years 104 days, this record stood until 2003 when Fernando Alonso won the Hungarian Grand Prix. In addition to the prize money McLaren was also awarded several acres of land adjoining the Sebring lake.

1946
Twice world champion Emerson Fittipaldi was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He started 144 races between 1970 and 1980 - winning the championship in 1972 and 1974. During his F1 career he achieved 35 podiums, 14 of these wins. He moved to America to compete in ChampCars in 1984 enjoying huge success and winning the championship in 1989. He retired from motorsport after a massive crash in 1996. After another crash - this time in a private plane - he decided to give up dangerous pursuits and bought an orange farm in Brazil.

1973
Jackie Stewart, who had recently retired after securing his third world championship, was named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, the second Formula One driver to win the accolade after Stirling Moss in 1961. Although John Surtees won in 1959 it was for his achievements on a bike rather than in a car. Eleven years earlier to the day Stewart had made his debut in an F1 car at the non-championship Rand Grand Prix.

1948
Roelof Wunderink was a Dutch driver who owed his season in Formula One down to rich sponsors rather than anything he had achieved on the track. His time in Formula 3 and F5000 had shown he had some ability, but one tenth place in a non-championship event at Brands Hatch was his best return. A bad crash in an F5000 race midway through the season stalled his progress and by the time 1976 came about another pay driver had been found.

1946
Italian driver Renzo Zorzi , who was born in Ziano di Fiemme, raced in seven grands prix between 1975 and 1977, his best resulting coming when he finished sixth at the 1977 Brazilian Grand Prix. But soon after he was indirectly involved in the death of his Shadow team-mate Tom Pryce. Zorzi retired from the race with a minor engine fire, and as he was tending to the flames, two marshals ran across the track to aid him. Pryce avoided Zorzi's car but hit one of the marshals who was carrying a hefty fire extinguisher. Both were killed instantly. Zorzi was replaced soon after and after dabbling in sports car and British F1, he returned to his original job with Pirelli.

1923
Melbourne born Ken Kavanagh's Formula One career came and went in a flicker, failing to start either grand prix he entered in 1958. He had actually qualified for the Belgian GP but blew the engine in his Maserati in the process. He was a successful motorbike rider, the first Australian to win a grand prix in 1952 as well as the winner of the Junior TT on the Isle of Man TT in 1956.

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