The BT59 was both smaller and lighter than its predecessor, the BT58. It bared similarities with its predecessor in using the same rear axle and for its first race at San Marino, it used the same gearbox as the BT58. The Judd EV that was used to power the BT58 was improved in becoming more powerful, narrower and more flexible for its use on the BT59.
The team's drivers were David Brabham and Stefano Modena for the 1990 season. During the season with the team's new BT59, Brabham failed to qualify six times during the season, meanwhile Modena could only manage a seventh place at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Brabham used their BT59 for the first two races of the 1991 season, with the team's car being designated as the BT59Y, due to the team having Yamaha engines. The team replaced both Brabham and Modena with Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell. Brundle finished 11th and 12th, meanwhile Blundell retired from both races.
The BT59 was replaced by the Brabham BT60 for the remainder of the 1991 season.
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"Well I've done one lap and we had a misfire. Then I had to jump back into the '58 to do some more miles. The car hasn't turned a wheel yet, but we think its going to be okay. The car is lighter and has more horsepower. So hopefully it will be a bit quicker." - David Brabham talking to Matthew Lorenzo. Eurosport. 1990 San Marino Grand Prix Build-Up.