Martini (Automobiles Martini)

"Tico" Martini built his first racing car in Jersey in 1962. This was a hillclimb car powered with a motorcycle engine and he used it on the Boulay Bay hillclimb event. It was there that he met Bill Knight, who was running the Jim Russell Racing School at the Magny-Cours racing circuit. The following year Martini moved to Magny Cours to look after the school cars and to prepare a fleet of cars for the school's F3 team. This led to him racing cars when they were available. In 1965 the Knights took over the school and it was renamed Winfield . In 1968 Martini became a car builder with the MW3 (the MW designation being derived from Martini Winfield) Formula 3 car. This was run by Winfield Racing for Etienne Vigoureux in the French F3 series. There were also the MW2 in Formula Ford racing. In 1969 Martini reconfigured the MW2 for Formula Renault and success was immediate with Jean-Luc Salomon, Jimmy Mieuset and Jacques Foucteau winning the first four races of the year. Later in the year Roland Trolle also won races but Dennis Dayan won the title for Grac. In 1970 there was no argument: Francois Lacarrau won the title from Jacques Coulon - both in Martini chassis. In the course of the next 10 years Martini won 200 victories in 280 races in Formula Renault.

Progress was slower in Formula 3 but Jacques Laffite began to score good results with the MW4 in 1969 and in 1970 Salomon was soon on the pace in the MW5 while Mieusset showed well in the old MW3. Sadly Salomon was killed when he crashed at Rouen in June that year. It was not until the autumn that the team reappeared with Jean-Pierre Jaussaud driving but at Nogaro he gave Martini his first F3 victory. The 1971 chassis was called the MW7 and was raced by a variety of different teams but it was not until 1973 that Laffite gave Martini its first F3 title with the MK12 (the designation having been changed to Martini Knight). When F3 was canceled in France Martini turned to Formula 2 and with Elf sponsorship, Schnitzer BMW engines and Hugues de Chaunac managing the team, Laffite won six races in the MK16 to win the championship. There was further success in 1976 with Rene Arnoux and Patrick Tambay, Arnoux winning the European F2 title again for Martini in 1977.

In 1978 Martini decided to build an F1 car - the MK23 - which was powered by a Cosworth DFV with backing from Elf, RMO and Silver Match. Arnoux was chosen as the driver but the car did not have ground effects technology and was uncompetitive. The team failed to qualify in South Africa and Monaco but Arnoux made the field and finished ninth in Belgium. He raced on three other occasions but lack of sponsorship caused the team to pull out of F1.

Martini bounced back in 1979 with Alain Prost's incredible success in the 1979 European Formula 3 series in which he won 7 of the 11 races in a Martini MK27.

The company continued to win in F3 right through the 1980s and returned to F2 in 1983-84. In the second season Michel Ferte finished third in the European Championship despite failing to win a race.

Tico Martini continued to build Formule Renault chassis with much success until 2004 when he sold the company to Guy Ligier and anew assault began on Formula 3.

Formula 3 Championships

France - 1973 Jacques Laffite - Martini-Ford MK12

France - 1979 Alain Prost - Martini-Renault MK 27

Europe - 1979 Alain Prost - Martini-Renault MK 27

France - 1980 Alain Ferte - Martini-Renault MK 31

France - 1981 Philippe Streiff - Martini-Alfa Romeo MK34

Italy - 1981 Eddie Bianchi - Martini-Toyota MK34

France - 1983 Michel Ferte - Martini-Alfa Romeo MK39

France - 1984 Olivier Grouillard - Martini-Alfa Romeo MK42

Europe - 1984 Ivan Capelli - Martini-Alfa Romeo MK42

France - 1985 Pierre-Henri Raphanel - Martini-Alfa Romeo MK45

Germany - 1985 Volker Weidler - Martini-Volkswagen MK45

France - 1986 Yannick Dalmas - Martini-Volkswagen MK49

French Formula Renault Championships

1970 - Francois Lacarrau - Martini MW4

1972 - Jacques Laffite - Martini MK8

1975 - Christian Debias - Martini MK15

1976 - Alain Prost - Martini MK17

1977 - Joel Gouhier - Martini MK20

1978 - Philippe Alliot - Martini MK24

1979 - Alain Ferte - Martini MK26

1980 - Denis Morin - Martini MK30

1981 - Philippe Renault - Martini MK33

1982 - Gilles Lempereur - Martini MK36

1983 - Jean-Pierre Hoursourigaray Martini MK38

1984 - Yannick Dalmas - Martini MK41

1985 - Eric Bernard - Martini MK44

1986 - Erik Comas - Martini MK48

1987 - Claude Degremont - Martini MK51

1988 - Ludovic Faure - Martini MK54

1989 - Olivier Panis - Martini MK57

1990 - Emmanuel Collard - Martini MK59

1992 - Jean-Philippe Belloc - Martini MK63

1993 - David Dussau - Martini MK65

1994 - Stephane Sarrazin - Martini MK65

1996 - Sebastien Enjolras - Martini MK72

1997 - Jonathan Cochet - Martini MK76

European Formula Super Renault

1973 - Rene Arnoux - Martini MK11

1974 - Didier Pironi - Martini MK14

1975 - Rene Arnoux - Martini MK15

1976 - Didier Pironi - Martini MK18

1977 - Alain Prost - Martini MK20