Jean-Pierre Beltoise: Iconic 1972 Monaco GP Winner

BeltoiseIf you are a Formula One enthusiast then the history of racing must intrigue you a lot. The 70s represent a special place in racing because this was a period when greats sat behind the wheel. These drivers were viewed as gladiators in the classic arena with no safety comforts.

Losing one of these gladiators, Jean-Pierre Beltoise who was one of the Monaco GP greats, has left an aura of gloom in F1, but the best tribute to such a hero would be to highlight his greatest moments.

Jean-Pierre Beltoise At Monaco

Monaco Grand Prix - 1972

Jean Pierre Beltoise – BRM – Monte Carlo Monaco Grand Prix – 1972

Truth be told, Monaco GP is one of the highest rated races and for good reason. The glamour, the hairpin corners, the drama on the track and the fun is unrivalled. One of the reasons Beltoise made a name for himself, like most drivers,  was by winning at Monaco in 1972.

If you have just started enjoying Formula One, you will also appreciate why Beltoise’s win at the Monaco GP is rated a spectacular moment in F1. But lest you put the cart before the horse, why not take a keener look at the highlights that made him a spectacular driver? Here is a short review:

A champion is born: Born in April 26th 1937, Beltoise started his racing career on motorcycles like most early GP drivers. With time he had three titles in 3 years and was later to try his hand at International GP racing in various CC categories.

The enduring champion: During an endurance race in a Rene Bonnet’s car in 1964, Jean-Pierre Beltoise suffered a serious accident that almost ended his career. To prove fate wrong, he went on to race again despite limited movement in his left hand. Surprisingly, he won the 1965 Reims Formula 3 despite his injury. Talk of endurance!

Formula 2 epoch: Like every driver, Beltoise had to make it up the rungs slowly but steadily. From 1966, this path was already charted with German Formula 2 races in a Matra MS5 race car in which he won the category. The iconic driver was to later graduate to an MS7 performing remarkably well, finishing second at Mexico City and Watkins Glen.

Top flight in Formula One: By 1968 at the Dutch GP, Jean-Pierre was already using Matra’s Formula One machinery. His impressive driving saw him finish second at the French GP while working with Jackie Stewart, another F1 great at Matra.

Crucial move to BRM: With competition for the Matra seat heating up with arrival of Chris Amon, Beltoise moved on to BRM in 1972.

1972 Monaco GP win: He was to win in a rain soaked track in 1972, which still remains one of his greatest racing moments. His replacement at Matra Amon could only manage 6th position proving to the Matra team they had lost great potential.

Retirement: Well, every great run has to come to an end and for Jean-Pierre Beltoise, he knew the best moment after failing to get more wins with BRM. Though he still remained active as a test driver in F1 primarily with Ligier in the 70s, his magic was not seen any more on the track. However, he was still active in touring cars and sports cars.

The last call: There is a time for everything and on January 5th, French motor sport federation (FFSA) announced the death of the great Monaco GP winner. Of course his impact will still be felt through offspring such as Julien, who  is still in racing.

Formula 1 has lost another great, but luckily, there are many protégés such as Hamilton and Vettel to fill their big shoes and keep this legendary status of Monte Carlo streets alive. Who will win the Monaco Grand Prix this year?

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