Monaco — 14 May 1972
In the late 1960s former motorcycle racer Jean Pierre Beltoise was seen as the next great hope of French motorsport. With Matra winning titles due to its links with Ken Tyrrell’s F1 team, there was a huge push to give France it’s first world champion driver. But by 1972 JPB’s star had started to fade. The only thing that seemed different when the F1 series descended upon Monte Carlo for the 1972 Monaco GP was the circuit layout. For this year only (as the Station Hairpin was abandoned during construction of the Loews Hotel), the pits were sited by the side of the harbor just after the chicane, with a new chicane installed further down the road before Tabac — a new section of track would appear the following year to incorporate the Piscine complex and La Rascasse.
Now driving a barely competitive BRM, Beltoise made an incredible start in incessant rain to take the lead from 4th on the grid. As the only driver with a clear view, JPB started to pull away, but wait, who was behind him? Only the rain master himself, Jacky Ickx. Surely it was only a matter of time before the Ferrari overtook the BRM. But Beltoise held the lead for every single one of the race’s 80 laps. This was Jean Pierre’s day of days, the day he was firmly in the zone, the day that his BRM engine (less stressed by the wet race pace) didn’t blow up, the day that his injured arm (withered from a 1971 crash at the Buenos Aires 1000km) didn’t have to fight against the heavy steering as the front tires skimmed over the puddles, the day that Beltoise made everyone behind him (Ickx, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jackie Stewart) look decidedly average. On that wet but glorious Sunday in May, Jean Pierre Beltoise was easily the best driver in the world. It would never happen again. Beltoise continued with BRM for two more seasons through to almost the bitter end for that once-great team, but neither would capture another GP win. Classifications.
A preview from our forthcoming Six Top One-Win Wonders collection.