As a tribute to the late Jean-Pierre Beltoise, we thought we’d share with you arguably the man’s finest hour. It wasn’t until we looked in to the goings-on at the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix that we realised what a bizarre event it was.
Beltoise had recently joined Marlboro BRM having hitherto been backed strongly by Matra, who had dropped him in favour of Chris Amon in a one-car team. As such he was probably somewhat fired-up when the circus arrived at Monaco. Mario Andretti had forsaken his Ferrari in favour of a ride in the Indianapolis 500, Carols Reutemann was also absent and Jackie Stewart was unusually off-pace (it turns out the Scot was suffering at the time from a bleeding stomach ulcer). Also as a one-off, the pits were moved from their usual position to the opposite (harbour) side of the start-finish straight, robbing those who’d forked-out for start-finish tickets of a view of the pits.
“Beltoise had convincingly won his only Grand Prix, Marlboro had won its first race as a sponsor and BRM had won its last as a constructor”
The real madness arrived on race-day along with the stinking weather, for which an extra practice session had been organised. Imagine a field of Grand Prix cars circulating in anger (and reduced visibility…) when Prince Ranier and his entourage are nonchalantly waved on to the circuit as well! Incredibly, this is exactly what happened and nobody was hurt …
This video (which sounds suspiciously like it might have been voiced by Telly Savalas. Seriously, see for yourself!) doesn’t show the wet practice incident but does show the appalling conditions which caught out just about everybody, including Beltoise. By the time the chequered flag fell, the race had lasted an astonishing two hours and 25 minutes (before the days of the two-hour cap). Beltoise had convincingly won his only Grand Prix, Marlboro had won its first race as a sponsor and BRM had won its last as a constructor.
If that is odd enough, listen to some of the mannerisms of the American commentator who describes the surface as being like ‘glazed ice’. Oh and then there’s some of the background music… Safe to say that they don’t make F1 videos like this any more!