F1: Former Monaco GP winner Beltoise dies at age 77

Jean-Pierre Beltoise races en route to his only Formula One World Championship victory at the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix on May 14, 1972. (Video at bottom of article)

French racing legend Jean-Pierre Beltoise, who earned a place in the F1 history books with his only win in a soaking wet Monaco GP in 1972, has died at the age of 77 after a double stroke on Monday.

Born in Paris, Beltoise began racing motorcycles and won multiple French motor racing championships before moving to cars. An accident in the 1964 Rheims 12 Hours left him with serious leg and arm injuries, but he fought back to establish himself as France’s top racer over the rest of the decade.

He was best known for his long association with Matra, which began in F3 in 1965, and continued in F2 the following year. At the end of 1967, Matra began its move into Grand Prix racing and Beltoise ran an F2 car in the US and Mexican events. He contested a full season with the new works V12 in 1968, finishing second in Holland. He also found time to win that year’s European F2 title.

In 1969, Matra switched to Cosworth power and Beltoise drove alongside Jackie Stewart under the auspices of Ken Tyrrell. He finished second in his home race and earned a couple of thirds as his teammate took the title.

French driver Jean-Pierre Beltoise, winner of the Monaco’s Formula One Grand Prix in 1972.

The V12 returned in 1970, and Beltoise earned more thirds in Belgium and Italy with the back-in-the-works Matra team. His 1971 season was overshadowed by a controversial crash in the Buenos Aires 1000 kilometers sportscar race, which cost the life of Ferrari driver Ignazio Giunti and led to Beltoise losing his licence for a while. Beltoise had been pushing his Matra back to the pits when it was struck by the Italian.

He moved to BRM in 1972 and enjoyed his day of days when he outdrove the field to win a wet Monaco GP, although he had little luck elsewhere. In 1973 he was outshone by new teammate Niki Lauda, while in 1974 a second place in South Africa showed that he could still get the job done. It was his eighth and final F1 podium finish. His season ended with a heavy practice crash in the final race at Watkins Glen, which left him with foot injuries.

He was supposed to return to F1 with Ligier and Matra in 1976, but ultimately Jacques Laffite got the job, and his single-seater career fizzled out. He was involved with the birth of the Rondeau Le Mans effort before moving to touring cars, winning the French title in both 1976 and ’77.

Beltoise’s first wife Elaine was killed in a road accident and he later married Jacqueline Cevert, sister of his close friend Francois.

Below is footage from Beltoise’s only F1 win at the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix:

Video by GentlemanDriver90.