Matra RSS

World Championship Career
Year Engine Driver Race Start Won Pod Class Best 1+2 Pole Front Best Lap Pts Pos
1967 Ford JPMG Beltoise, J Servoz-Gavin 3 3 0 0 2 7 0 0 0 11 0 0 -
1968 Ford JPMG Beltoise, J Servoz-Gavin, J Stewart 12 16 3 5 11 1 0 0 5 2 3 45 3
Matra JPMG Beltoise, HJW Pescarolo, J Servoz-Gavin 10 12 0 1 5 2 0 0 0 8 1 8 9
1969 Ford JPMG Beltoise, J Servoz-Gavin, J Stewart 11 25 6 10 19 1 1 2 6 1 6 66 1
1970 Matra JPMG Beltoise, HJW Pescarolo 13 26 0 3 18 3 0 0 1 2 0 23 7
1971 Matra CA Amon, JPMG Beltoise 10 17 0 1 11 3 0 1 3 1 0 9 7
1972 Matra CA Amon 12 11 0 1 9 3 0 1 2 1 2 12 8
Total 61 110 9 21 75 1 2 4 17 1 12
Race Circuit Date
First race Monaco Grand Prix Monaco May 7, 1967 Race results
Last race United States Grand Prix Watkins Glen October 8, 1972 Race results

It was the French Matra company that helped take Jackie Stewart to his first World Championship success in 1969.

Matra was a big French aerospace concern, whose more lucrative products included guided missiles. They knew all about monocoque construction through this involvement in the aircraft industry and they also had a plastics division.

Matra supplied car bodies to René Bonnet, who was running Formula Junior monocoque cars until he went bankrupt. At that point, Matra executive Jean-Luc Lagardère decided to form Matra Sports to take over where Bonnet had left off. The Matra Formula Three cars were renowned for high quality workmanship and when Ken Tyrrell went looking for a chassis, he approached Matra.

Tyrrell had already secured the new Cosworth DFV for 1968 and he had Jackie Stewart signed up, with money and support from Dunlop tyres. After two years of running Matra chassis in Formula Two, Tyrrell went Formula One with the MS10 in 1968, adding the Matra name to the World Championship victory roll at the Dutch Grand Prix. Stewart remained in contention for the championship until the final round in Mexico, where he was pipped by Graham Hill's Lotus.

Matra had funding from Elf and the French government granted them £800,000 to develop its own engine. The French built a V12, which was raced in an MS11 chassis by Jean-Pierre Beltoise. The V12 was not competitive against the Cosworth, however, and for 1969 Beltoise joined Stewart in Tyrrell's DFV-powered team. Matra, meanwhile, concentrated on sports car racing and on developing the V12 engine.

The new Matra MS80 for 1969 was around 15 kilos lighter than the MS10 had been and it allowed Stewart to dominate the season. After winning in South Africa with the MS10, he gave the MS80 a successful debut in the non-championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch. He then went to Barcelona, where the Matra team scored a fortunate win when both Lotus 49s suffered failures to their newly introduced high rear wings.

Unfortunately, the Matra broke while Stewart was leading convincingly from pole position around the streets of Monaco, but both team and driver were dominant thereafter.

The British Grand Prix, one of the all-time great races, featured a tremendous duel between Stewart's Matra and Rindt's Lotus. Mechanical problems hampered Rindt and Stewart claimed another win.

Monza that year witnessed another epic. The famous track was bereft of chicanes in those days and the Italian Grand Prix was usually a slipstreaming classic. Stewart had selected a top gear ratio ideal for the sprint to the line out of the last corner. Although Rindt passed him going in, Stewart led coming out and headed a four-car blanket finish to seal the World Championship.

Although Matra could bathe in the glory of building the championship-winning chassis, it was very much a British success. Both the team and engine manufacturer were based in England and the driver was Scottish. France had not been properly represented in Formula One since 1957, and for the 1970 season Matra insisted on using its own V12 engine. Tyrrell and Stewart did not trust the unit, and so bought a March chassis and raced that instead.

Matra's small sports car company had been taken over by Simca, and so a Matra Simca MS120 was raced by Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo in 1970, achieving three third places. Chris Amon replaced Beltoise for 1971 and won a non-championship race in Argentina. However, over the next two seasons, despite sounding glorious, the cars never won a grand prix.

Matra then concentrated on winning the Le Mans 24 Hours and withdrew from Formula One altogether. The V12 engines appeared in a Ligier chassis and Jacques Laffite won the 1977 Swedish Grand Prix with one, but the Matra team never returned.

Reproduced from The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Formula One published by Carlton Books

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Jackie Stewart's championship-winning Matra MS80

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Jackie Stewart drives his 1969 Matra MS80

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Jean-Pierre Beltoise at the wheel of the Matra

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