Having recovered, he moved to the F3 scene, and won at the scene of his tragedy in 1965 for Matra, with whom he graduated to F2, winning the German Grand Prix support race.
By 1968, he was duly rewarded with a full-time drive for Matra, who entrusted him with their own V12-engined machine. The highlight of his first full season was a brilliant drive to second place at the Dutch Grand Prix, doing enough to get himself noticed and promoted to Tyrrell in 1969, as Jackie Stewart’s number-two, while Matra stepped away to further develop their V12.
For 1972, he was lured to BRM with the attraction of the role as lead driver. The team was now its terminal decline, but Beltoise finally notched up his single F1 victory – and the last for the team itself – in the monsoonal Monaco GP. It was a truly great wet-weather drive, acknowledged as one of the best seen on the streets of the Principality. Even Jacky Ickx – the wet-weather maestro – finished over a minute adrift of the Frenchman, and was ont of the first to congratulate JPB on hios achievement.
Beltoise would never win an official F1 championship race again, and suffered the indignity of BRM’s rapid freefall from grace, retiring at the end of 1974.
[Images via The Cahier Archive]
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