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Phillipe Streiff in a Martini MK31 at Monaco 1980.
Tico Martini's first racing machine was a kart-like 650cc Triumph motorcycle powered hill climb machine that he built in 1962. Within a year this naturalized Frenchman of Italian parents was looking after the technical side of the Winfield Racing Drivers School at Magny Cours and he began building his first cars at a garage at the track. All the Martini chassis have since had either the MW, (for Martini-Winfield) or MK (for Martini-Knight, the Knight brothers owned the Winfield school) designations. The first Martini F3 was a car designed for the school team and this was followed by a succession of F3, Formule France and Formule Renault machines depending on what the French market demanded at the time and by the end of the 70s Alain Prost in the ORECA run Martini MK27 Renault was the dominant force in F3. Over the next few years Martini continued to build F3 cars as well as being very successful in F2, there was even a disastrous try at F1 with Rene Arnoux in 1978. Martini have continued to produce F3 cars through the 90s and beyond although success against the Dallara monopoly has been rare.
 
The first F3 Martini car was the MW1 built for the Winfield school, their first F3 proper was the MW3 and was raced by Etienne Vigoreux who was a graduate of the Winfield school. The Ford powered car was a spaceframe with conventional suspension, results were adequate with a fifth at Dijon and sixths at Rheims and Magny Cours.
 
The MK4 waiting on the grid.
A new car was introduced in 1969 it was a development of the Formule France chassis. The MK4 retained a spaceframe and it was reminiscent of a current Brabham. Results were again OK with two thirds at Magny Cours which wasn't too surprising as that was were all the testing was done.
 
The MK5, note the development in tyre width in just one year.

James Hunt testing the MK5.
The MK5 was a development of the MW3, still retaining its spaceframe chassis and wishbone based suspension. For the first time the small bulges for the fuel tanks were fitted to the sides of the car, something that would be a Martini characteristic for several years. Obviously Martini had got everything right as its drivers were fulsome in their praise for the cars handling. Jean-Pierre Jaussaud scored the teams first win at Nogaro also taking a second at Cadwell Park whilst Jean-Luc Salomon also took seconds at Paul Ricard and Montlhéry.
 
José Dolhem in a MK7 at Pau with the standard nose.
 
Jacques Coulon at Thruxton showing the unusual
full-width nose for high speed tracks.
The MK7 was perhaps the first Martini F3 that successfully penetrated the customer market and 11 of these neat little cars were built, all for use by French drivers. The design followed the standard Martini line, a space frame chassis with wishbone suspension. Bodywork was typically low and flat with low bulging fuel tanks, the chassis was considered to be slightly overweight. As can be seen from the picture it seems as if an unusually shaped full-width nose was used on faster circuits. Front and rear wings were occasionally fitted but with these low powered machines the drag penalty of the simple wing designs of the period was often considered not worth the handicap. In France the cars were usually second best to the Alpines but Migault did win and Coulon and Dolhem had some good results. Ford Novamotors were the preferred power unit.
 
Jacques Coulon's MK9 leading Roger Williamson
in a GRD at Brands Hatch.

John Bisignano in his narrow-nosed MK9.
The MK7 space frame was retained for the 1972 MK9 but there was a switch to Holbay engines, however the most noticeable change was the full-width nose cone and aerodynamic engine covers. Once again in France the Alpines were still the more successful but Coulon had some good results with some wins at the end of the season at Magny Cours, Monthlhéry and Brands Hatch in his Filipinetti run car.
 
Jacques Laffite showed good form all year in
his MK12.
Once again the MK12 continued to use the rather heavy space frame originating from the MW7 but further refinements were carried out to the bodywork with smoother noses whilst often the engine cover was left off. The car proved to be very popular amongst French privateers and for the first time Martini took the French championship away from Alpine. Highlight of the year was Jacques Laffite's victory in the Monaco F3 race in his BP sponsored car. This would be the last F3 Martini for several years as France turned to Formule Renault for a while.
 
Danny Snobeck's MK21 at Zolder.
Martini, but not France, returned to F3 in 1977 with a conventional monocoque that still managed to retain the Martini look with its low bulging fuel tanks. Only a few races were contested but once again victory was taken at Monaco with Didier Pironi victorious in his Toyota Novamotor powered MK21.
 
Jacques Coulon in his MK21B, finishing 3rd at Knutsdorp.
For 1978 the "B" version of the MK21 was offered although any changes were of a minor variety. The car wasn't particularly competitive with only a handful of top 6 results. A certain amount of controversy surrounded the one Martini success, Prost's win at the Jarama round of the European Championship, as up until then the MK21B had been little better than a midfield runner and after the victory it returned to its former position. At the time fingers were pointed at the legality of the Gordini-tuned Renault engine that Prost had exclusive use of.
 
Alain Prost leading at the Zandvoort European
F3 Championship round in his MK27.
The MK27 was a straightforward monocoque built right down to the minimum weight limit, the car weighed in at 443kg, only three over the limit, special attention was also paid on making the car easy to work on. The engine, which in the case of the works car was a Renault, was mounted in a tubular framed bay. The Renault engine was reckoned to be more powerful than the Toyota engines and it certainly weighed less, the aluminium block of the Renault weighing 15kg less than the Toyota. Additionally Renault and their tuner Gordini spared no expense in developing the engines and by season end Prost had 5 works engines at his disposal. The best example of the Renault advantage was that Prost won 7 of the 12 European Championship series, there was also a clear difference between Prost's car and the other customer Martini Renaults as when Streiff switched from a Renault to a Toyota he immediately became far more competitive.
 
Thierry Boutsen finished 2nd in the European
F3 Championship with his MK31.
The MK31 was a tidied up version of the MK27 and again simplicity was the name of the game, Renault had withdrawn from the scene and the cars were now mostly Toyota powered. They were particularly strong on tight and twisty tracks and they dominated the first part of the season including three one-two finishes. When March updated their 803 to the "B" version it got the upper hand over the Martini's which also seemed unsuited to the later season tyre developments and Alboreto beat Boutsen to the European Championship but Alain Ferté took the French Championship in his MK27/31.
 
Philippe Alliot leads eventual winner Alain Ferté at Monaco.
The MK34 was a further refinement of the MK27/31 line, unfortunately the cars suffered badly from a lack of straight line speed and there was almost no real development from the factory during the season.
There was something of a tyre war that year with Michelin determined to win the European Championship and the Monaco GP support. To this end they supplied the works Martinis of Ferté and Alliot plus the private car of Streiff and this helped the cars a great deal, especially Ferté who seemed to get the best out of the rubber. This gave Ferté the Monaco win plus the runner-up spot in the European standings even though he only won one race, a string of second places giving him the required points.
 
The MK37 under construction at the Martini factory.

The rear suspension of the MK37, the gearbox mounted dampers are clearly visible.

The MK37 front suspension showing the rocker arms and the neat detailing on the tub.

The MK37 was a new design, it used an aluminium monocoque that Martini claimed was more rigid than that of the MK34, it was also narrower to give the maximum width of ground-effect sidepods. Front suspension was by top rockers and lower wishbones whilst at the rear it was parallel links with the dampers mounted on brackets over the gearbox to allow for a clean airflow through the rear suspension.
Sadly the MK37 was not a great success, it still suffered badly from a lack of straight-line speed, it was 7mph slower than a Ralt RT3 or the Euroracing 101. This year there was however development carried out and the rear suspension was worked on all season and a new slippery body (that looked very like the Euroracing) was introduced. At least the drivers were able to throw the car about a bit and Alain Ferté was able to win again at Monaco as well as at Magny Cours and Alliot won at La Châtre, all circuits were the lack of speed wasn't a handicap.

 
Michel Ferté taking the hat-trick of victories at Monaco for the family Ferté.
Perhaps surprisingly, in view of the MK37's problems, the MK39 was just a tidied up version of the previous year's car. More work was carried out on the suspension and a new body design was employed.
Martini decided to give the European Championship a miss and concentrate on the French Championship. This worked and Michel Ferté just won after beating the Ralt of François Hesnault by two points, both drivers winning five rounds each during the year.
 
Ivan Capelli in the MK42 at Monaco.
Once again it was evolution rather than revolution for the MK42 but after all this development things looked good again for Martini.
Ivan Capelli took the European Championship in the Coloni-run car winning three races. Capelli also took a fourth win at Monza but was excluded when the airbox on the car was found to be illegally modified. This put rather a cloud on Capelli's year but he did win two more races after Monza in a fully legal car. In the French Championship the MK42 dominated taking the first five places in the order Grouillard, Delavallade, Raphanel, Belmondo and Morin.
 
Denis Moran in the MK45.

The low lines of the MK45 are evident here as Volker Weidler dives inside the Ralt RT30 of Kris Nissen.
The arrival of the flat-bottom regulations for 1985 saw a new model, the MK45, appear on the scene. It looked much smaller and neater than some of the more recent Martinis with its low, sloping sidepods.
Once again it did very well with Raphanel and Dalmas taking 1-2 in the French Championship and Volker Weidler winning the German equivalent whilst Alex Caffi finished second in the Italian version. Yet again it was a Martini win at Monaco with Dalmas taking the victory laurels.
 
Yannick Dalmas in the Mk49.
The MK49 was in effect a stopgap whilst Martini were working on their first composite chassis. It was very much an evolution of the MK45 and once again was successful. Perhaps its most remarkable achievement was Dalmas winning the Monaco GP support race, the eighth successive win for Martini! At home Dalmas won six of the eleven rounds to win the French Championship, Michel Trollé taking third. Elsewhere it was less successful with just a sixth place in the final standings of the German Championship for Otto Rensing.
 
The MK52 featured low cockpit sides.
There were high hopes for the MK52, Martini's first composite chassis, it used pushrod suspension and was a typical late eighties design. Jean Alesi, runner-up in the 1986 series, was the works driver in France and in the first race of the French Championship at Albi he could only finish twelfth. For the next round Alesi borrowed his previous year's Dallara and immediately won, the third round saw Alesi in a MK49 with MK52 suspension finishing seventh. Alesi was fed up and insisted on running a new Dallara for the rest of the year, he won six more rounds and took the championship. Martini blamed the problems on the drivers saying they were unwilling to develop the car but it was a similar story in Germany where despite some heroic efforts by Otto Rensing he could only manage two fourth places at Hockenheim and Zolder.
 
The MK55 was Martini's attempt to recover after the disaster of the MK52 and to some degree it was a success. The works cars of Lionel Robert and Didier Artzet ran well on occasions with the highlight a 1-2 at Paul Ricard and Artzet was leading comfortably at La Chatre until a loose wheel put him out. Sadly both men had to leave the championship half way through due to sponsorship problems. They finished seventh and eighth in the French Championship despite this, a case of what might have been. In Germany Frank Biela won at Mainz and the Hungaroring and took a second at Brno to finish third in the German Championship. Not a bad effort after the disaster of the previous year.
 
Another new car for 1989, the MK58, it didn't win any races but Yvan Muller and Lionel Robert had some good results in France to take fifth and sixth in the final standings although Robert did the last three races in a Dallara. Despite the previous years success in Germany the only runner of note was Michael Roppes, eighth at the end of the year.
 
After the recent improved form of the Martini it all went wrong again in 1990 with the MK60, results were poor in both France and Germany.
 
Yannick Dalmas in the Mk49.

After leaving F3 for a few years Martini returned to the fray in 1994 with the Opel-powered MK67. The car was designed in 1993 but not built until '84 when Promotec, the team running it, had secured the necessary finance. The car was driven by David Dussau who by the time the car appeared in the middle of May was the joint leader of the French F3 Championship in a Dallara. It finished fifth on its debut at Dijon in June, despite this promising beginning it seems the team weren't happy with it and returned to the Dallara for the rest of the year.

 
Wolf Henzler's Mk73 holds off a Dallara 396, the two cars are virtually indistinguishable.

The Mk73 first appeared in August 1996 driven in the German F3 Championship. The idea was to have the car racing in 1996 so that it would qualify for the 1997 French championship which would only allow cars that raced before the end of 1996 to race. It showed immediate promise with a couple of top six finishes against the massed hordes of Dallaras.

 
A head-on shot of Oriel Servia's MK73.

Martini's ploy of introducing the MK73 early and getting some racing miles under it's belt paid off in 1997. Although it was Dallara that took the French championship and Martini were up against the sheer numbers of the Italian cars Montagny showed the MK73 was a front runner with four wins towards the end of the year. In addition German driver Wolf Henzler took an excellent second place at the Monaco GP support race as well as finishing third in the German Championship. Henzler's win at the Nurburgring was the first time Dallara had been beaten in Europe for over three years.

Wolf Henzler winning at the Nurburgring.
 
Frank Montagny winning at Nogaro.

Thomas Enge running in the German Championship.

The MK73 continued into 1998 and once again proved successful with Wolf Henzler and Pierre Kaffer finishing third and fourth in the German Championship. There was a similar story in France where Frank Montagny continued on his wining way taking no less than ten wins during the season in the French Championship. Montagny just missed out winning the championship by three points after a phenomenal run of wins be Dallara-mounted David Saeleans. At the end of the season at Spa there was a round of the British Championship, Montagny qualified fourth and was battling for second with Saelens when they had a coming together which indicates the Martini MK73 could run with the best in any series.

 
The MK79 with its fashionable high nose.

The MK79 showed immediate promise in France when it won the opening two races of the French Championship at Nogaro in the hands of Sebastien Bourdais. The car then went off the boil for several races until Bourdais took another two wins at Dijon. From then on Bourdais continued to run at the front and at the end of the year he was crowned French Champion and the MK79 had got the best of the Dallaras.

 
The Mk80, not too far removed from the MK79.

The MK79 continued to be used in 2000 but the previous year's success was not to be repeated and the best the MK79 could manage was to finish 7th in the French Championship. This was despite winning the opening round of the Championship but thereafter there was only one other top three finish and it was back to Dallara on top. A new car, the MK80 raced in early season races in the German Championship but the car struggled to qualify/race in the top twenty and after a handful of races it was not seen again.

 
Drivers  
   
1968 MW3
Etienne Vigoreux.
   
1969

MW4
Jacques Lafitte.

MW3
Jacques Lafitte.

   
1970

MW5
Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, Jean-Luc Salomon.

MW3
Jimmy Mieusset.

   
1971 MW7
Phillip Albera
, Joel Auvray, Patrice Compain, Jacques Coulon, Guy Dhotel, José Dolhem, Lucien Guitteny, François Laccarrau, François Migault, Marcel Morel, Patrick Perrier, François Rabbione.
   
1972

MK9
Phillipe Albera, Joel Auvray, Bernard Beguin, John Bisignano, Ray Caruthers, Miguel Coarasa, Jacques Coulon, Guy Dhotel, José Dolhem, Cliff Haworth, François Laccarrau, Philippe Munier.

MW7
José Dolhem
, François Rabbione.

   
1973

MK12
Bernard Beguin,
Patryck Boutin, Bernard Chevanne, Alain Cudini, Christian Ethuin, Jacques Laffite, Jean Max, Jean-Pierre Paoli.

MK11
Bernard Beguin, Cliff Haworth.

MK9
Philippe Albera, Patric Boutin, Philippe Munier, Jean Ragnotti.

?
Georges Ansermoz

   
1974 MK9
Reinhard Pfändler, Marcel Wettstein.
   
1975 MK9
Reinhard Pfändler.
   
1976 MK9
Marcel Wettstein.
   
1977 MK21
Didier Pironi, Danny Snobeck.
   
1978

MK21B
Patrick Bardinon, Anders Olofsson, Alain Prost.

MK21
Patrick Bardinon, Jacques Coulon, Anders Olofsson.

   
1979

MK27
Richard Dallest, Jo Gartner, Mats Paninder, Alain Prost, Serge Saulnier, Philippe Streiff.

MK21
Jean-Pierre Malcher, Serge Saulnier.

   
1980

MK31
Daniele Albertin, Philippe Alliot, Mauro Baldi, Thierry Boutsen, Enzo Coloni, Pascal Fabre, Alain Hubert, Patrick Lancelot, Oscar Ruben Larrauri, Piero Necchi, Vinicio Salmi, Philippe Streiff, Manuel Valls.

MK27/31
Alain Ferté.

MK27
Alfredo Ruggeri.

   
1981

MK34
Philippe Alliot, Paolo Barilla, Eddy Bianchi, Gerhard Berger, Pascal Fabre, Alain Ferté, Ricardo Galiano, Paolo Giangrossi, Denis Morin, Jean-Michel Neyrial, Emanuele Pirro, Vinicio Salmi, Jean-Louis Schlesser, Philippe Streiff, Patrick Teillet, Didier Theys, Andy Wietzke.

MK31
Jakob Bordoli, Albert Coll, Josef Kaufmann, Michel Lateste, Jean-Michel Neyrial, Pierre Petit, Emanuele Pirro, Riccardo Galiano Ramos, Dominique Tiercellin, Alexandre Yvon, Jean-François Yvon.

MK27
Dieter Bergermann.

?
Manfred Hebben.

   
1982

MK37
Philippe Alliot, Gerhard Berger, Alain Ferté, Michel Ferté, Franco Forini, Patrick Gonin, François Hesnault, Philippe Huart, Guy Leon-Dufour, Pascal Pessiot, Philippe Renault, Franco Scapini, Alfredo Sebastiani, Patrick Teillet, Didier Theys, Jürg-Pascal Vogt, Walter Voulaz.

MK34
Guido Dacco, Jacques Gambier, Philippe Huart, Josef Kaufmann, Arie Luyendijk, Bernard Santal.

MK31
Jakob Bordoli, Bernard Bribes, Alain Fell, Eric Lukes, Alexandre Neefs, Camilo Parizot, Claude Tourand.

MK21B
Hervé Delaunay.

   
1983

MK39
Harald Becker, Frédéric Dellavallade, Pascal Fabre, Michel Ferté, Patrick Gonin, Olivier Grouillard, Josef Kaufmann.

MK37
Ferdinand de Lesseps, Pascal Pessiot, Jürg Vogt.

MK35 (Appears to be a converted Super Vee chassis)
Bruno Eichmann, Manfred Hebben, Josef Kaufmann.

MK34
Thomas Bertschinger, Rolf Engert, Cor Euser, Claude Marcq.

MK31
Otto Christmann, Erich Höhmann, Alexander Seibold.

?
Georges A. Hedinger

   
1984

MK42
Harald Becker, Paul Belmondo, Ivan Capelli, Frédéric Dellavallade, Ricardo Galiano, Bruno di Gioa, Olivier Grouillard, Manfred Hebben, Jean-Pierre Hoursourigaray, Josef Kaufmann, Denis Morin, Pierre-Henri Raphanel, Bernard Santal, Richard Weggelaar.

MK39
Cor Euser, Josef Kaufmann, Jürgen Kühn, Ferdinand de Lesseps.

MK37
Jacky Eeckelaert, Ruedi Schurter.

MK34
Karl-Heinz Wenig.

MK31
Otto Christmann, Erich Höhmann.

   
1985

MK45
Alex Caffi, Yannick Dalmas, Frédéric Dellavallade, Bruno di Gioia, Philippe de Henning, Franz Konrad, Jean-Noel Lanctuit, Nicola Larini, Gilles Lempereur, Denis Moran, Stefan Neuberger, Jari Nurminen, Markus Oestreich, Pierre-Henri Raphanel, Philippe Renault, Jo Ris, Bartl Stadler, Alfonso de Vinuesa, Volker Weidler.

MK44
Mario Bauer, Helmut Mundas, Rudi Seher, Pietro Spazolla, Alfonso Toledano.

MK42
Bernard Cognet, Franz Hunkeler.

MK39
Bernard Cognet, Karl-Heinz Wenig.

MK35 (Appears to be a converted Super Vee chassis)
Otto Christmann.

MK31
Eberhard Ernst.

   
1986

MK49
Eric Bachelart, Eric Bellefroid, Eric Bernard, Yannick Dalmas, Markus Oestreich, Manuel Reuter, Michel Trollé, Volker Weidler, Yuuji Yamamoto.

MK45
Gianni Bianchi, Jakob Bordoli, Andy Bovensiepen, Peter Elgaard, Pierre Hirschi, Peter Kroeber, Helmut Mundas, Stefan Neuberger, Franz-Josef Prangemeier, Otto Rensing, Ralf Rauh.

MK44
Willi Bergmeister, Sigi Betz, Helmut Bross, Eberhard Ernst, Richard Hamann, Christian Vogler.

MK37
Romeo Nüssli
.

MK35 (Appears to be a converted Super Vee chassis)
Otto Christmann.

MK27
Karl-Heinz Maurer.

?
Adi Lechner, Delia Stegemann.

   
1987

MK52
Jean Alesi, Markus Oestreich, Otto Rensing.

MK49/52
Jean Alesi, Yuuji Yamamoto.

MK49
Roland Franzen

MK45
Jakob Bordoli, Stefan Neuberger, Bernard Thuner.

MK42
Georg Arbinger.

MK35 (Appears to be a converted Super Vee chassis)
Otto Christmann.

MK31
Karl-Heinz Kerschensteiner.

MK27
Karl-Heinz Maurer.

   
1988

MK55
Georg Arbinger, Didier Arztet, Frank Biela, Franz Binder, Ellen Lohr, Lionel Robert, Peter Zakowski.

MK52
Frank Biela, Jakob Bordoli.

MK49
Roland Franzen, Georg Neyer.

MK35 (Appears to be a converted Super Vee chassis)
Otto Christmann.

   
1989

MK58
Cathy Muller, Yvan Muller, Michael Roppes.

MK55
Lionel Robert, Peter Schär.

MK49
Pierre-André Cossy
.

MK45
Romeo Nüssli.

   
1990

MK60
Frank Beyerlein, Franz Engstler, Meik Wagner.

MK58
Olivier Caekebeeke, Walter Kupferschmid
.

MK55
Günter Muskovits.

MK52
Romeo Nüssli
.

MK49
Richard Neurauter.

?
Roland Bossy
.

   
1991

MK58
Peter Fischer.

MK52
Romeo Nüssli.

?
Walter Kupferschmid.

   
1992

MK60
Peter Fischer.

MK58
Hansruedi Debrunner.

MK52
Romeo Nüssli.

   
1993

MK60
Peter Fischer.

MK52
Romeo Nüssli.

   
1994

MK67
David Dussau.

MK58
Hansruedi Debrunner, Christoph Grossenbacher.

   
1995 MK45
Othmar Oswald
.
   
1996

MK73
Wolf Henzler.

MK58
André Gauch.

   
1997

MK73
Tom Coronel, Wolf Henzler, Franck Montagny, Tom Schwister, Oriol Servia, Steffen Widmann, Jaroslaw Wierczuk.

MK58
André Gauch.

   
1998 MK73
Sebastien Bourdais, Jonathan Cochet, Tomas Enge, Marcel Fassler, Yasutaka Gomi, Wolf Henzler, Thomas Jäger, Pierre Kaffer, Franck Montagny, Timo Rumpfkeil, Toby Scheckter, Timo Schneider, Tom Schwister, Steffen Widmann.
   
1999 MK79
James Andanson, Westly Barber, Sebastien Bourdais, Marcel Costa, Patrick Frieschar, Ryo Fukuda, Hugo van der Ham, Alexander Müller, Timo Rumpfkeil, Yannick Schroeder.
   
2000

MK80
Thomas Mutsch.

MK79
Marcos Ambrose, James Andanson, Romain Dumas, Andreas Feichtner, Patrick Hildenbrandt, Ying-Kin Lee, Thomas Mutsch.

MK73
Philip Giebler, Adam Jones.

   
2001 MK79
Simon Abadie, Jerome dalla Lana.