Career Summary:

Chris Bristow

  • December 02, 1937
  • June 19, 1960
  • United Kingdom
  • Not Active
  • 45
  • 6
  • 16
  • 2
  • 13.33%
  • 35.56%

Chris Bristow (1937-1960) was a British racing driver who recorded four starts in the Formula One World Championship and few participations in non-championship F1 races before losing a life during the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, in the same race that took a life of another British racer Alan Stacey.

Chris Bristow, Cooper Climax Formula One World Championship 1960

Chris Bristow

Successful start of a career in the sports car racing

Born in December 1937 in Lambeth, London, Christopher William Bristow started his racing career in the mid-1950s in sports car races. Driving an MG Special, he scored some wins in national sports car events in 1956. He then raced in a Cooper T39-Climax in 1957, again gaining some success.

In the following years, he continued to race on a national level in a Lotus 11, Elva or Cooper Monaco T49. In September 1959, he was driving a Porsche 718 RSK at Goodwood's Tourist Trophy, sharing a car with Hans Herrmann and not finishing the race because of an accident.

Chris Bristow in the #24 Porsche 718 RSK at 1959 Tourist Trophy

Chris Bristow in the #24 Porsche 718 RSK at 1959 Tourist Trophy

Formula 1 debut at 1959 British Grand Prix

In July 1959, Bristow made a debut with BRP (British Racing Partnership) in the Formula 1 World Championship, driving a Borgward-powered Cooper T51 F2 car in the British Grand Prix at Aintree Circuit.

At the wheel of the #48 car, he started 16th on the grid and finished tenth, five laps behind race winner Jack Brabham.

Chris Bristow 1959 British Grand Prix

Chris Bristow made his Formula 1 debut in the #48 car at 1959 British Grand Prix

Two podiums in non-championship F1 races

In September 1959, Bristow drove a Cooper T51-Climax in the International Gold Cup at Oulton Park, scoring his first Formula 1 podium by finishing third.

In April 1960, Bristow scored his second F1 podium. After starting from pole position, he was third in the Glover Trophy race at Goodwood Circuit, driving a Cooper T51-Climax for Yeoman Credit Racing Team. He was on a podium with Innes Ireland and Stirling Moss.

Chris Bristow 1960 Monaco GP

Chris Bristow in the #16 Cooper-Climax at 1960 Monaco Grand Prix

Technical retirements at Monaco and Zandvoort

During the year, Bristow participated in Formula 2 races with Yeoman Credit Racing Team, planning also to drive their Cooper T51-Climax in European rounds of the Formula 1 World Championship.

In May, he was fourth on the starting grid of Monaco Grand Prix but had to retire from the race after 17 laps with a broken gearbox. Then, in June, he was again good qualifier in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, starting seventh on the grid. A broken engine forced him to retire after just nine laps.

Chris Bristow in the #36 Cooper-Climax at 1960 Belgian Grand Prix

Chris Bristow in the #36 Cooper-Climax at 1960 Belgian Grand Prix

Horrific death at Spa-Francorchamps circuit

Two weeks later, unfortunately, Bristow's life came to a premature end at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. He crashed in the #36 Cooper at Burnenville corner during the Lap 20, previously passing Willy Mairesse in a Ferrari for the sixth place. Bristow's car rolled, he dropped out from a car to a barbed wire which decapitated him.

The extremely dangerous Burnenville corner was a place of severe injuries of Stirling Moss a day earlier. One more fatal crash happened during the race, just five laps after Bristow's accident when Alan Stacey was killed.

Chris Bristow 1960 Belgian Grand Prix crash

Bristow's car after his fatal crash at Spa

Photos: LAT Photo,