Matra MS80 - French manufacturer and British team were the winning combination

February 16, 2017
Featured, Memories
Alexander S

  • Matra MS80 Jackie Stewart
  • Matra MS80
  • Matra MS80
  • Matra MS80
  • Matra MS80

The Matra MS80 was the car which led the French manufacturer to its only Formula 1 World Championship title, while Jackie Stewart won first of his three crowns.

The winning combination – Matra and Tyrrell

France once was among the leading countries in the world of racing but after the World War 2 major manufacturers weren’t interested in returning to the racing tracks. In the mid-1960s, Matra, a manufacturer specialized in aviation and rockets industry, decided to try his luck and the success was imminent. Using the experience in the field of aerodynamics, the manufacturer based in the suburb of Paris was able to build quality monocoques.

Matra MS80 1969 ford cars grand prix racing v12 engine cosworth monaco 1968 lotus ms11

Matra MS80 was much better than its predecessor

In 1966, British team manager Ken Tyrrell joined Matra Sports and brought with him talented Scottish driver Jackie Stewart. After successful years in Formula 3 and Formula 2, Matra turned focus to Formula 1. In a meantime, Tyrrell with Matra’s support formed the Matra International and ran the cars of the French manufacturer. Finally, at the end of 1968, Matra closed its own team and focused on supporting Ken’s Matra International.

Matra MS80 was also known as Coke bottle

The new Matra MS80 wasn’t prepared for the start of the 1969 season and in the season-opening race at Kyalami, Jackie Stewart raced an extensively modified version of the previous model Matra MS10 and won the race. When F1 caravan arrived in Europe, the new MS80 was prepared and used by Stewart and Jean-Pierre Beltoise in the rest of campaign.

Matra MS80 1969 ford cars grand prix racing v12 engine cosworth monaco 1968 lotus Jean

Jackie Stewart in Matra MS80,. 1969 Dutch Grand Prix

The Matra MS80, designed by Gerard Ducarouge and Bernard Boyer, had a completely new look of monocoque which soon be named ’Coke bottle’. This car also was one of the first with wings for downforce to increase the level of tire grip at high-speed. After other teams had a couple of serious accidents in the first half of the 1969 season because of the high-wing constructions, the MS80 began to use lowered wings, directly attached to the car’s body.

Five wins were enough for the title

The Matra MS80 debuted on the track in the Spanish Grand Prix at Montjuic Circuit in Barcelona. Jackie Stewart won the race and scored the first of five victories that year. After retiring from the race in Monaco where he started from pole position, the future champion scored three consecutive wins – in The Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom. It was followed by the 2nd place in Germany and finally with a win in Italy.

Matra MS80 1969 ford cars v12 lotus dfv formula grand prix ms10 mclaren cosworth

Jackie Stewart in Matra MS80 at Nurburgring, 1969

After retiring from the races in Canada and in the US, Stewart finished 4th in the 1969 season-closing race in Mexico and won the title with a huge margin of 26 points to runner-up Jacky Ickx. At the same time, Beltoise also did a good job. He was 2nd in the French Grand Prix, while in Spain and Italy he was 3rd, playing an important role in the assault on the title.

Matra MS80 1969 ford cars v12 lotus dfv formula grand prix mclaren ms10 cosworth ms11

Matra MS80 – Formula 1 championship winning car in 1969

In total, Matra MS80 during its short life won 5 out of 10 races, had a total of 9 podiums, 5 fastest laps, and 2 pole positions.

Matra MS80 technical specifications

ChassisAluminium monocoque with fully stressed engine
Wheelbase2.400 mm
Track (front & rear)1.550 mm
Front suspensionDouble wishbones, coil springs over dampers
Rear suspensionUpper and lower rocker arms, twin radius arms, coil springs over dampers
EngineFord Cosworth DFV 90º V8 3.0, 2.993 cc, mid-longitudinally mounted
Power430 bhp / 321kW at 10.000 rpm
GearboxHewland DG300 5 speed
BrakesGirling ventilated discs
Weight555 kg