Teams Jean Lucienbonnet
Jean Lucienbonnet: 1959 Formula One SeasonBy Jeremy McMullenPage: 1
|1959|| Jean Lucienbonnet ||Cooper || || ||Climax FPF 1.5 L4 ||T45 |
Quite often, throughout the early history of grand prix and Formula One racing, would-be drivers would have to take on a pseudonym to fool unsupportive parents or family members. There would be many other names that would come and go that appear for but a brief moment, almost an apparition that would be surrounded more in mystery than any concrete evidence. However, in 1959, one man would embody both the mystery and the misdirection.
In January of 1923, Jean Bonnet would be born in Nice, France. It is believed that Jean would come to find work as a car mechanic throughout the 1940s. Though this much is known about the man, very little else can be found, and even where he had been born is a matter of much investigative work.
The lack of clear information can be partly put down to the fact that his name is Jean Bonnet. However, when he decided to take a crack at motor racing in the 1950s and early 1960s he would enter under the name of Jean Lucienbonnet.
There is nothing but speculation as to why this is. There are suggestions of possible family interference and the combining of 'Lucien' with the 'Bonnet' name would be enough to throw off would-be suspicious parents and family. However, there would be another speculative suggestion that this nickname of sorts would be merely a combination of Jean's two names, Lucien and Bonnet. Whatever the motivation and the reasoning behind Bonnet becoming Lucienbonnet, the simple fact of the matter is that this man from Nice would be yet another that would attempt to make a splash on the grand prix scene, but would end up another enigmatic name to briefly appear in Formula One history.
What can be concretely deduced is that Lucienbonnet would make a couple of appearances in single-seater races throughout the 1959 season. He was, at that point in time, already 36 years of age, and therefore, nothing more than a gentleman racer looking to experience the thrills of a World Championship race, competing against the best drivers in the world. Jean Bonnet would not be an entirely unknown name within the racing world of the 1950s. Although, obviously, not one of the greatest drivers of the decade, he would ritually take part in the Mille Miglia, starting in 1951. Records would indicate he would also take part in the Hyeres 12 Hours in 1952 in which he and Francois Picard would combine to finish 5th overall.
Though unknown to most, Bonnet was not to be considered incapable. In 1955 he would earn a class victory in the Bol d'Or driving a Panhard Dyna. He would then finish 18th overall in the 1958 24 Hours of Le Mans driving a D.B. Coupe. Therefore, Bonnet was certainly a capable driver, but was he good enough to compete in Formula One where it would be just him against some of the best drivers in the world? This was truly the question, and he would attempt to find out the answer to the question the following year.
|Though pushing 40 heading into the 1959 season, Lucienbonnet would have his best opportunity to try his hand at Formula One. Throughout the '58 season the mid-engined Cooper would come on strong earning a couple of victories within the World Championship and contesting many others. The Coopers were customer cars enabling customers to buy a competitive car without having to have an extensive factory effort behind them. This was ideal for Bonnet who was the epitome of the gentleman racer. |
|1959||T45||Climax FPF 1.5 L4|
Besides Cooper itself, there would be a number of other racers that would be either upgrading to a new Cooper chassis, or, were stepping out of Formula One altogether. This meant there were a number of used Cooper chassis that a racer could get for even less money.
Andre Guelfi had been born in Mazagan, Morocco, but had moved back to France in the early part of his life. However, while still a young boy, his family would move back to Morocco and Guelfi would become a regular in the racing scene around Morocco in the post-war years. In 1958, Guelfi would take part in the only edition of the Moroccan Grand Prix. Since it would be the one and only time the Moroccan Grand Prix would be conducted as part of the Formula One World Championship he would have a Cooper T45 that he would have very little use for anymore. This was ideal for Bonnet.
A deal would be struck and Bonnet would purchase Guelfi's Cooper T45, chassis F2-18-58, from him. Bonnet now had his car. He was ready to test his hand in single-seater grand prix racing. Actually, Guelfi would enter the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix under the Cooper Car Company banner. The factory, therefore, gave Andre the car to use for the race and then it was taken back to England following the end of the race. Bonnet would travel to England to work out the deal for the chassis. Upon striking a deal for the car, Bonnet would look to take the car to a circuit and give it a try.
At the time Lucienbonnet would travel to England to make the deal with Cooper to gain use of the T45, the grand prix season would be kicking-off in Europe. In England, it would be the end of March, and that meant it was time for the Easter Monday Races held annually at Goodwood near Chichester.
RAF Westhampnett had been ushered into service with the Royal Air Force in 1938 and served right up through 1946. At the conclusion of the Second World War there would be a number of air force station that were decommissioned and disused. The satellite station attached to RAF Tangmere had been built on the lands of the Goodwood Estate. Following its being decommissioned the Duke of Richmond would be in search of a use for the turf airfield. Being a keen racing enthusiast himself, he would jump at the notion of turning the perimeter taxiway into a 2.38 mile road course. Naming it after the estate, the Goodwood Circuit would be born.
Besides the short-lived nine hour race, Goodwood would become famous for its Easter Monday Races which would feature a number of categories of cars racing in short events providing spectators a look at just about every kind of racing category in one big event.
One of the events held over the course of the day would be the Formula 2 event called the Lavant Cup race. The race, in 1959, would be held on the 30th of March and would cover just 15 laps, or, 36 miles. Still, with drivers like Jack Brabham, Roy Salvadori, Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren in the mix, Jean would get an idea, real quick, of where he stood.
He would find out real quick as Brabham would take the pole for the race setting a lap time of 1:32.4. Lucienbonnet would be more than twenty seconds slower posting a personal best of 1:54.6 during practice. Therefore, Brabham would start from the pole and Jean would start from the back.
More evidence would come during the race. Though only 15 laps in length, Lucienbonnet would be visited more than once by Brabham and Salvadori over the course of the race. It would all start when Brabham would get away from the grid fine but Salvadori would struggle. Brabham would be in the clear air while Salvadori would be pushing hard to regain what he had lost. In short order Salvadori would close the gap to Brabham. It would help that Salvadori would set a fastest lap time more than two seconds quicker than Brabham's best in practice. This meant Salvadori not only caught up to, but was pestering the Australian for the lead.
This would be about the first time Lucienbonnet would be visited by the leaders. About the time Jean would have gone a lap down for the first time, Salvadori would make his way by Brabham for the lead of the race. Unfortunately for Roy, the lead would be short-lived as Brabham would sweep back by into the lead.
Salvadori would pressure Black Jack throughout and this pressure would increase the pace to the point that Jean would be passed for a second time. A number of others would find the pace too much for their cars. More than a half a dozen drivers would find their races come to an early end despite the race being just 15 laps long. Lucienbonnet would be still in the race at the time, but he would certainly not be on the pace.Page: 1 Sources:
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