How Jack Brabham blessed Aussie hope in last interview
HE IS is the closest thing to motor sport royalty that Australia has ever produced.
The late Sir Jack Brabham AO, OBE, made a brief visit to the Sunshine Coast yesterday to be reunited with one of his former Formula 2 racing cars: a 1967 BT23/1 brought into the country by Aeromil Pacific MD Steve Padgett, a long-time friend of the racing legend.
The three-time Formula One World Champion - who raced between 1955 and 1970 in the top formula - was, at 88-years-old, the oldest surviving Grand Prix race winner and World Champion.
Yet even with damaged hearing due to a life in the cockpit and failing eyesight, this Australian icon of the sport was still able to pass comment on Australia's current hopeful in Formula One.
"We record the Formula One races and Jack watches them back," his wife, Lady Margaret said. "He was in Melbourne this year for the Grand Prix, and it was fantastic to see an Australian on the podium."
Although this second place finish for Red Bull's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo was ultimately stripped due to fuel irregularities, Sir Jack said he had been impressed with the form of Sebastian Vettel's teammate's this year.
"He's done a good job, he really has," the 1959, 1960 and 1966 F1 World Champion said.
As a man who knew, Sir Jack also agreed that 24-year-old Ricciardo could one day be a World Champion driver himself, which would break the current 34-year drought since an Australian driver had achieved motor sport's highest accolade.
The last Australian to do so - and the only other alongside Brabham - was Alan Jones when he took his solitary Championship in 1980.
Ricciardo did finally achieve his first ratified podium finish at the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this month, but it have been his performances against his four-time World Champion teammate Vettel that have raised the most eyebrows.
The permanently-smiling Australian has out qualified his highly rated teammate in four of the five Grands Prix so far this year, and although Vettel leads Ricciardo in the 2014 F1 Driver's Championship by six points, this is only because of Ricciardo suffering his controversial disqualification at the Melbourne Grand Prix.
Next weekend sees Ricciardo race the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time in a Red Bull, a race Sir Jack Brabham - Monaco Grand Prix winner in 1959 - had planned to be watching in the hope of more Australian success.