Early in his four-wheeled career, Beltoise met and later married one Jacqueline Cevert. Maybe his glamorous, dangerous career as a racing driver attracted her - it certainly attracted the attention of her brother François.

Beltoise would provide support and guidance to his brother-in-law, and eventually they would contest four seasons together, including both serving stints as team-mates to Jackie Stewart. Jacqueline would often be seen in tow with the pair of them.

Ironically, Cevert pipped Beltoise to the honour of being the second Frenchman to win a Grand Prix. Both would end their Formula One careers with a single win to their name, but at least Beltoise would walk away from his.

Jean-Pierre Beltoise enjoyed great success in motorcycles before moving into Formula One. He drove in various classes, including 50cc, 125cc and 250cc, notably for the Morini, Bultaco and Kreidler teams. Beltoise won 11 national motorcycle titles in three years, and his best place in the World Championship was 6th, in 1964.

Photos from top:

1. The Morini 175 at Magny-Cours in 1962

3. Beltoise c. 1963

3. Beltoise’s time with Bultaco

4. Driving for Kreidler at the 1963 Belgian Grand Prix

5. 1964, driving a Morini in the 250cc class

After the triumphs of Trintignant and the tigerish driving of Behra, French stars of the 1960s were harder to come by. One emerged towards the end of the decade though, one inspired by his 1950s hero, and whose career started in much the same way.

Like Jean Behra before him, Jean-Pierre Beltoise was a star on two wheels, winning 11 motorcycle championships between 1961 and 1964. His first forays on four wheels were not in single seaters but rather in sports cars, debuting at Le Mans in 1963, but an accident the following year almost finished his career, and left him with a left arm so severely broken that the movement in it was always restricted thereafter.

Beltoise was not daunted, however; he took to single-seaters, and by 1966 was taking victory in the prestigious Monaco F3 race for the developing French Matra team, and, perhaps more impressively, winning the F2 class at that year’s German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

Beltoise and Matra dabbled in F1 with a modified F2 car in 1967, but it was in 1968 that the first true Matra V12 F1 car emerged onto the scene, with Beltoise at the wheel. As with any car, there were teething troubles, as well as bad luck - a puncture robbing Beltoise of a likely win at the French Grand Prix - but this and a second at Zandvoort underlined the potential of driver and car.

1969 brought three further podium finishes, but Beltoise was overshadowed by his team-mate, the great Jackie Stewart. 1970 found him appearing on the podium twice more, but by 1971 Matra was in decline and even Chris Amon, brought in to lead the team, had little success.

1971 was an unhappy year for Beltoise for more than just this reason. In the Buenos Aires 1000km Beltoise ran out of fuel, and he was pushing his car along the track to the pits under yellow flags when it was struck from behind by Ignazio Giunti’s Ferrari, which burst into flames. Beltoise escaped almost unscathed. Giunti did not.

Beltoise was strongly criticised for the accident, in Argentina and in Europe. The Italian racing authorities clamored for the withdrawal of his racing licence. Their French counterparts dithered, unwilling to support or condemn the stance of the Italians. Worse, the Argentinian authorities wanted Beltoise to stand trial for culpable homicide.

It was Louis Stanley of BRM, a long-standing campaigner for safety in motor racing and never a man to back down in adversity, who came to Beltoise’s rescue, not just defending him staunchly in the racing press but also offering him a lifeline in the form of a BRM drive for 1972.

Beltoise repaid Stanley for his support in the best possible way. BRM was in terminal decline by this stage, and the car would fail to score points in 10 of the 11 races it contested that season. Monaco, however, was different.

The race was run in atrocious conditions, rain soaking the circuit, but at the start Beltoise shot forward from the second row to lead up the hill from Ste Devote. Yes, he had the advantage of a view not marred from spray, but it was so difficult a race that only two drivers completed the full distance. One of those, Jacky Ickx, was an unquestioned master in the rain, and he underlined this by finishing second. The winner, however, by over 30 seconds, was Beltoise.

It was to be almost his last hurrah. He carried on for two more seasons with BRM, but the only other highlight was a remarkable 2nd place in the 1974 South African Grand Prix. Along the way he lost his brother-in-lawFrançois Cevert, and although a come-back in 1976 with the fledgling Ligier team was suggested, in the end it was not to be.

Beltoise was not lost to motor racing, however, continuing for many years in French Touring Cars, and he is still a regular visitor to historic events such as Classic Days. He recorded only the one Grand Prix win, but as the leading French driver of the 1960s he had served as an inspiration to many of his young countrymen; Cevert, of course, and one more in particular whom we shall come to soon.

Maurice Trintignant - The Cars

1. The Gordini Type 15: Trintignant drove for the team from 1950-53

2. The next two seasons were spent with Ferrari, and Trintignant finished 4th in the Drivers’ Championship both years. Apart from victory at Monaco, Trintignant drove to a podium at the Argentine Grand Prix - in two shared drives, finishing both second, and third!

3. 1956 saw a year with Vanwall, the Straight-4 shown here at the Belgian Grand Prix

4. Winning the Aintree 200 miles for Ferrari in 1957

5. Four years driving a Cooper followed, with podium finishes in 1958 and 1959, topped off by victory in Monaco

6. The BRM P57 at the 1964 Monaco Grand Prix

Rob Walker, Maurice Trintignant’s entrant for the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix, on his winning driver:

Maurice spoke no English at all, and if he understood any he certainly wasn’t letting on. He used to rely upon Harry Schell to teach him phrases suitable for various social occasions, one of which was important enough for Harry to write it down in Maurice’s diary so there could be no mistake about it. So when Maurice was introduced to an English-speaking lady, Maurice would thumb through his diary and then, with a dazzling smile, he would recite, “Ow do you do - weel you slip wiz me tonight?” I believe that this direct approach had almost as many successes as failures.

Maurice Trintignant at Monaco

Formula One returned to Monaco in 1955 after a four year hiatus. Trintignant qualified his Ferrari ninth on the grid. As is often the case at the glamour event of the season, it was a race of attrition. At the end of the 100 laps, it was Trintignant who emerged as the popular winner by 20 seconds, taking his first victory in the World Championship.

In 1958, Trintignant was driving for Rob Walker. He qualified fifth in the Cooper, in the midst of a group of other British cars at the front of the grid. Again drivers traded the lead and Trintignant had a battle with Mike Hawthorn, before the latter retired. Many cars were unable to meet the rigours that the circuit demanded of them, but not so for the Cooper of Trintignant. He went on to take the flag by the same margin he had done three years previously!

If there was a prize for the most unusual nickname in Formula One, Maurice Trintignant would win hands-down…

Trintignant had started his racing career in a Bugatti in the late ’30s, but as war descended upon Europe, the car was packed away for the duration. When war was over, Trintignant dusted it off and duly entered his first race in over six years in the Bois de Boulogne, where the Bugatti ground to a halt due to fuel starvation. Investigation revealed the cause of this to be rat droppings left in the fuel tank by opportunistic inhabitants over its long lay-up. In French, rat droppings are les petoules and from that day forth, Trintignant was “Le Petoulet.”

Trintignant soon traded the Bugatti in for a Gordini, and started the 1948 season with two wins, before disaster struck. Three drivers were killed over the weekend of the 1948 Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten, the great Achille Varzi among them. For a while, that figure was four.

Trintignant crashed in the race, was flung out of the car, and only narrowly avoided by Farina and others. For eight days he lay in a coma, and at one point, like three colleagues before him had been that week, he was pronounced clinically dead.

He was back behind the wheel and winning within the space of a year.

Trintignant missed the first World Championship Grand Prix at Silverstone, made it to the second at Monaco, but failed to finish, as he would many times over the next three seasons when the little Gordini failed him. He stuck patriotically with the underfunded French team for as long as he could, but the lure of Ferrari in 1954 proved too great. It was the right choice, with two podiums and three more points finishes in the first year.

If 1954 was good, 1955 was better. The 1955 Monaco Grand Prix is best remembered for Alberto Ascari taking a dip in the harbour. It was also, however, the occasion of the first Grand Prix win for a Frenchman, and practically on home soil too, Trintignant taking the flag.

He repeated the feat again in 1958, this time in a Cooper, and in the end he raced on until 1964, when he finally hung up his helmet at the ripe old age of 47.

In later life Trintignant turned to that most French of pursuits, wine-growing, and also became mayor of his local town. He passed away in 2005, aged 87, with two Monaco Grand Prix wins and the 1954 Le Mans to his name.

Not bad for someone clinically dead…

Top: Alain Prost taking his first victory in Formula One, at the French Grand Prix in Dijon, 1981.

Left: Prost wins the 1985 Italian Grand Prix on his way to his first Championship. He was the last driver in Formula One to receive the winner’s laurel wreath.

Right: Prost secures the World Championship at last, with 4th place at the 1985 European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch.

Jean Behra - The Cars

1. Beginning with a motorcycle, rather than a car! From 1948, Jean Behra won the French National title in 500cc four times for the Moto Guzzi team. Behra is pictured with a trophy in 1950.

2. Behra in the Gordini Type 16 at the 1952 French Grand Prix & 3. The Gordini team in 1953 - Behra, Harry Schell, Maurice Trintignant and Fred Wacker. It was for Gordini that Behra took victory at the Reims Grand Prix in 1952.

4. The Maserati 250F at Rouen in 1957. Behra drove the 250F in Formula One between 1955 and 1957, in which he gained non-Championship victories at Pau, Rouen, Monza, Morocco and Rome to name but a few.

5. Behra enjoyed great success in sportcars in 1958, driving the Porsche Spyder RSK & 6. The RSK at Riverside. That season, Behra won eight consecutive European races.

7. The Ferrari Dino 246 in a test at Modena in 1959 & 8. On the way to Ferrari victory at the Aintree 200 miles in a shared drive with teammate Tony Brooks.

This shows just some of the injuries that Jean Behra received during his career… if the picture extended, there would be more. The most serious of these, or at least that which left the most significant mark, was the loss of his right ear in a crash in 1955.
He had it replaced by a plastic prosthetic, which he would remove at opportune moments to scare any squeamish ladies present.
None of it slowed him down or altered his philosophy in the slightest.
"Only those who do not move do not die. But are they not already dead?"

This shows just some of the injuries that Jean Behra received during his career… if the picture extended, there would be more. The most serious of these, or at least that which left the most significant mark, was the loss of his right ear in a crash in 1955.

He had it replaced by a plastic prosthetic, which he would remove at opportune moments to scare any squeamish ladies present.

None of it slowed him down or altered his philosophy in the slightest.

"Only those who do not move do not die. But are they not already dead?"