Jean-Pierre Beltoise

Full Name:
Jean-Pierre Maurice Georges Beltoise
Born:
26th April 1937
Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris, Ile-de-France
Died:
5th January 2015 (Aged 77)
Dakar (SN)
Nationality:
French
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

May 14 1972 was the greatest day in Jean-Pierre Beltoise’s long racing career. He dominated the Monaco Grand Prix in one of the wettest championship races in history in what was the final victory for BRM. Beltoise started 86 World Championship races for Matra, Tyrrell and then BRM but that was his one moment of triumph.

Upbringing and early career

The son of a Parisian butcher, he raced motorcycles after completing his national service and won 11 national titles during the early 1960s. Beltoise joined the René-Bonnet company as a mechanic and he raced its Aérodjet sports car in 1963. 11th and a class winner at Le Mans that year, he was lucky to survive a huge accident during the 1964 Reims 12 Hours.

Critically injured and in hospital for six months, he was left with a slight limp, weak left arm and scars from the burns he suffered. By the time Beltoise was fit to return the company had been acquired by Matra and the Frenchman drove a works Formula 3 Matra MS1-Ford. His 1965 campaign began with a crash at Clermont-Ferrand but included a slipstreaming victory at Reims as he won the French F3 Championship.

Grand Prix debut with Matra

That success with Matra continued in 1966 both in Formula 2 (winning the class at the German GP) and F3 (beating Chris Irwin around the streets of Monte Carlo). He was unbeaten in the South American Temporada series at the start of 1967 before finishing third in that year’s inaugural European F2 Championship.

Beltoise also finished seventh in the final two GPs of the year when driving a ballasted F2 Matra MS7-Cosworth. Sixth in the opening GP of 1968 in South Africa, Beltoise won the non-championship race at Killarney a week later. He also married François Cevert's sister Jacqueline in January in what had been a busy month for the Frenchman. Second in that year’s Dutch GP with a V12-powered Matra MS11, he fulfilled his F2 promise by winning three times to clinch the 1968 European Championship for the marque. That was despite missing the Crystal Palace round due to a riding accident.

That run of sustained success was rewarded when Beltoise was chosen as number two driver for Ken Tyrrell’s Matra F1 squad in 1969. He was second in his home race at Clermont-Ferrand and scored another two podium finishes. Jackie Stewart won the world championship for the team with his French team-mate fifth in the standings. Beltoise also won at Hockenheim in F2 but struggled to develop Matra’s sports cars – victory in the non-championship Paris 1000Kms at Montlhéry and fourth at Le Mans were rare highlights.

While Tyrrell and Stewart made their own independent plans for 1970, Beltoise remained with Matra and convincingly led the French GP before puncturing a tyre. But he was then involved in the accident that claimed the life of Ignazio Giunti at the 1971 Buenos Aires 1000Kms. Beltoise’s Matra ran out of fuel approaching the final corner and he pushed the car across the track towards the pits. The unsighted Giunti collided with the Matra and was killed in the carnage. Beltoise was stripped of his racing licence for three months as a consequence of his role in the tragedy and he missed three further GPs when the FIA extended the ban until September 9 on appeal.

A move to BRM delivers Formula 1 success

He moved to the ailing BRM team in 1972 but that provided Beltoise with his greatest success. He qualified the Marlboro-sponsored P160B in fourth position for the Monaco GP and led all the way to score his only championship victory as an uncharacteristic Riviera downpour swept the Principality. He gamely gave his best as the team deteriorated over the next few seasons and second in South Africa 1974 was a last F1 hurrah for Beltoise and BRM.

Beltoise won World Sportscar Championship races for Matra that year but he was injured during practice for the United States GP. It seemed that the new Ligier team may prolong his F1 career for Beltoise was its original test driver but he was overlooked in favour of Jacques Laffite when it made its race debut in 1976.

With his GP career over, Beltoise raced in national touring cars (twice winning the championship for BMW) as well as competing in rallycross and ice racing. He remained a star and always competitive in those disciplines.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1979 BMW M1 Procar
Team Winkelhock
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 6
1977 French Touring Car Championship 1st -
1977 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 0
1976 French Touring Car Championship 1st -
1975 European F2 Championship
Ecurie Elf
Racing Organisation Course
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1975 World Championship of Makes 3 0 0 0 4
1974 F1 World Championship
Team Motul BRM
14 (1) 0 1 0
0% win rate
13th 10
1974 European F2 Championship
Ecurie Elf
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1974 World Championship of Makes
Equipe Gitanes
8 4 6 4 117
1973 F1 World Championship
Marlboro Team BRM
15 0 0 0
0% win rate
10th 9
1973 European F2 Championship
STP March Racing Team
4 (1) 2 1 0
0% win rate
0
1973 World Championship of Makes
Equipe Matra-Simca Shell
3 2 2 0 27
1972 John Player British F2 Championship
Motul-Rondel Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
16th 1
1972 World Championship of Makes
Equipe Matra-Simca Shell
1 0 0 0 0
1972 F1 World Championship
Marlboro Team BRM
11 0 1 1
10% win rate
11th 9
1972 European F2 Trophy
Shell-Arnold Team
Motul-Rondel Racing
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1971 F1 World Championship
Equipe Matra Sports
7 0 0 0
0% win rate
22nd 1
1971 European F2 Trophy
GTE Racing Cars
Constructions Mechanique Pygmee
1 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1971 International Championship of Makes
Equipe Matra
1 0 0 0 0
1970 F1 World Championship
Equipe Matra Elf
13 0 2 0
0% win rate
9th 16
1970 European F2 Trophy
Constructions Mechanique Pygmee
3 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1970 International Championship of Makes
Equipe Matra Elf
2 0 0 0 2
1969 F1 World Championship
Matra International
11 0 3 0
0% win rate
5th 21
1969 International Championship of Makes
Equipe Matra Elf
1 0 0 0 3
1969 European F2 Trophy
Matra Sports
6 1 4 1
17% win rate
0
1968 F1 World Championship
Matra Sports
Matra International
12 0 1 0
0% win rate
9th 11
1968 European F2 Trophy
Matra Sports
7 2 5 3
43% win rate
1st 48
1968 South African Drivers Championship
Matra Sports
1 1 1 1 0
1968 Temporada F2 Championship
Matra Sports
4 0 1 0
0% win rate
5th 11
1967 RAC British F2 Championship
Matra Sports
3 (1) 1 1 0
0% win rate
8th 6
1967 Temporada F3 Championship
Matra Sports
4 1 4 4
100% win rate
1st 36
1967 European F2 Trophy
Matra Sports
8 (1) 1 3 0
0% win rate
3rd 27
1967 International Championship of Makes
Matra Sports
1 0 0 0 0
1967 F1 World Championship
Matra Sports
2 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1966 F1 World Championship
Matra Sports
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1966 International Championship of Makes
Matra Sports
1 0 0 0 0
1966 Autocar British F2 Championship
Matra Sports
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
7th 2
1965 French F3 Championship 1st -
1964 International Championship of Makes
Automobiles Rene Bonnet
1 0 0 0 0
1963 Speed and Endurance World Challenge
Automobiles Rene Bonnet
1 0 0 0 1