RIP Jean-Pierre Beltoise 1937-2015

| 5 Jan 2015

Former Formula One driver Jean-Pierre Beltoise has died at the age of 77.

The Frenchman began his racing career on two wheels rather than four, with the 1962 French Grand Prix his first top-flight motorcycle outing. The pace of the Honda RC162 – which locked-out the top three places – couldn't be matched, though he steered his 250cc Moto Morini to a creditable fifth position.

Jean-Pierre Beltoise

It wasn't long before the lure of four wheels proved too strong to resist; just a year later he had added sports car racing to his calendar and was campaigning a Rene Bonnet. Despite a near career-ending crash at Reims that left him with serious injuries to his left arm, he was hooked. 

Jean-Pierre Beltoise

Beltoise's final motorcycle Grand Prix race came in 1964, again in France. By this time his preference for cars had become apparent, and brought with it some success, winning in Formula 3 at Reims. Successful seasons in Formula 2 followed, before he joined the F1 circus in 1967. 

Victory at the non-championship 1967 Buenos Aires Grand Prix and a podium finish at the Dutch Grand Prix a year later proved his pace, and convinced Ken Tyrrell to sign him to the Matra works team alongside Jackie Stewart. 

Jean-Pierre Beltoise

Beltoise failed to register a win as Stewart swept to his first world title, but he finished second in France and third in Italy. At the latter, he was in the midst of a classic Monza 'slip-streamer', crossing the line only 0.17 seconds behind his winning team-mate and the Lotus of Jochen Rindt. 

By 1972 Beltoise had left Matra in favour of BRM, with whom he finally tasted the success that had eluded him. His only F1 Championship victory took place at the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix in atrocious conditions. This victory wasn't just his first, but also BRM's last. 

Jean-Pierre Beltoise

Beltoise remained with BRM until he retired from Formula One in 1974. 

After leaving the British team he turned to touring cars, winning the French title in 1976 and 1977, both times at the wheel of a BMW (first a 3.0 CSi, then a 530). He also added a rallycross title to his trophy cabinet after teaming up with Alpine-Renault.