Alastair Caldwell and Nelson Piquet
Alastair Caldwell and Nelson Piquet.

Sorry Alastair, but I couldn’t wait for you.

1979 Leaving McLaren

Alastair Caldwell leaves McLaren to join Brabham. I quit McLaren in 1979 and went to work for Brabhams.

I’d been promoted; I was put in an office upstairs and wore a jacket and tie and was running the company more, dealing with insurance etc. The team wasn’t doing so well and I believed it was because my input was decreasing and my boss’s input was increasing.

The CanAm series had failed – Porsche had come along and won all the races and for some reason people didn’t like that so the whole thing collapsed. When McLaren won them all it seemed to be alright and people still went along. I stayed with McLaren for a while after the win in ’76 but things were going downhill, I was losing contact with the team. So I joined Brabhams because I wanted to work with Gordon Murray, a genius race car designer. I knew that Bernie would be a problem, and so did he, but we decided to give it a try. I was actually hired to try and keep Niki Lauda driving for the team, but he became so exasperated with them that he quit the day I turned up at the Canadian Grand Prix. We met in the lobby of the hotel, him still in his driver’s suit, and he told me 'Sorry Alastair, but I couldn’t wait for you.'

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