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  Matra MS10 Cosworth

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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1968
Numbers built:2
Designed by:Bernard Boyer for Matra
Successor:Matra MS80 Cosworth
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:February 21, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn the first fifty years of motoring, France had been a prominent player in the international racing world represented by legendary manufacturers like Ballot, Delage and Bugatti. None of them survived the first years after the Second World War and France's mainstream manufacturers showed little interest in entering circuit racing. By the 1960s the premier racing class, Formula 1, was fought out between Ferrari and a host of specialist British manufacturers like Cooper, BRM and Lotus. Originally a manufacturer of aviation products and rockets, Matra was determined to bring France back into international racing after they bought Rene Bonnett's ailing company in 1964.

Using the aerospace expertise a steel monocoque was constructed for the 1965 F3 season. Powered by a British Cosworth engine, it was immediately successful with both Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Jean-Pierre Beltoise winning races. Matra clinched the French F3 title in its debut year. For 1966, Matra Sport was joined by British team-manager Ken Tyrrell, who brought along a talented young driver called Jackie Stewart. Together they entered the even more competitive F2 championship with an all-aluminium Matra. Especially the Honda powered Brabhams were virtually unbeatable, but Beltoise nevertheless managed to win the company's first F2 race; at the Nürburgring. The following year the Matra was the car to beat and Jacky Ickx won the European Championship.

Encouraged by the successes in the 'lesser' classes, Matra now had its eyes strongly set on Formula 1. The ultimate goal was to become a dominant force with a completely French car, so work was started on a suitable engine. Taking a page out of Ferrari's book, the engineers decided to develop a quad-cam, 60 degree V12 engine. Even though the engine was announced early in 1967, it was quickly obvious that it would not be ready for the opening race of 1968. Thanks to Tyrrell's British contacts, the team managed to source the Cosworth DFV V8 engines that had shown great promise in the Lotus 49. Dubbed the MS9, Matra's first Formula 1 car was little more than an upgraded F2 racer and served mainly as a test bed, but also raced in the opening Grand Prix of 1968 where actually it qualified on the front row.

All the lessons learned were converted into the Matra MS10, which was designed specifically to house the Cosworth engine. However, it did not use the V8 as a fully stressed member as Lotus had done in the 49. Stewart scored the first victory for the debutant in Matra's fifth Grand Prix. He added two more to the tally later in the season, including an epic win on a rain-soaked Nürburgring. While Ken Tyrrell fielded his two MS10s, Matra themselves debuted the V12 engined MS11 in Monaco. Whereas the the MS10 used a subframe to mount the engine, the MS11 featured a monocoque with pontoon extensions for its V12. It produced a claimed 390 bhp, but its performance never justified the claim. With his Cosworth engined MS10, Stewart finished second in the driver's championship behind Graham Hill and Tyrrell's team finished in the same position behind Lotus.

Disappointed with the performance of the V12, Matra decided not to field a new car in 1969. They spent most of the year developing and testing the V12 engine in preparation for the following season. The French manufacturer did continue its support for Ken Tyrrell's Matra International team. In the season opener at Kyalami, Stewart raced an extensively modified version of the MS10. The rear subframe was gone and the engine was now used as a fully stressed member. Many of the suspension components were also new. These changes successfully prolonged the life one-year old MS10 as Stewart scored a victory in the car's final outing. Upon his return to Europe he was greeted by the all new Matra MS80, which he used for the rest of the year.

Many of the new components fitted on the Kyalami-spec MS10 were a preview of the new Matra. The biggest change was the 'Coke-bottle' shaped monocoque of the MS80. This freed up additional space for fuel on either side of the driver. Naturally the engine was mounted fully stressed. In Stewart's hands the MS80 was a winner straight out of the box with back to back victories in the Oulton Gold Cup and the Spanish Grand Prix at Montjuich. The young Scot won four more Grands Prix and with a total of six victories in eleven races, he was deservedly crowned World Champion at the end of the year. His team-mate, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, added enough points for Matra to become Constructor's World Champion as well.

Towards the end of 1969 Matra was acquired by Chrysler Europe subsidiary Simca. Under Simca's orders, Matra refused to supply Tyrrell with new chassis, if he wanted to continue to use the Ford badged Cosworth engine. Reluctant to give up on the most potent engine on the grid in favour of the still unproven Matra V12, Tyrrell decided to sever his ties with Matra. In 1970 he fielded a Cosworth engined March for Stewart, who scored one victory, while Tyrrell worked on a Formula 1 car of his own. The Cosworth engined Tyrrells would propel Stewart to two more World Championships. With the departure of Tyrrell, Stewart and Cosworth, Matra also lost its winning ways. Three seasons of racing the V12 engined MS120 yielded just a couple of third place finishes. Matra later returned as an engine supplier, finally scoring wins with the V12 in the early 1980s.

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  Article Image gallery (12) Chassis (1) Specifications User Comments (3)