Equipe Ligier (lee-JEE-ay) is French motorsport team that competed in Formula One from 1976 to 1996. It was founded by former rugby player and racing driver Guy Ligier, who initially created Ligier in 1968.
In 1976, Guy Ligier bought the assets of the Matra team and started his F1 team, with a sole entry for Jacques Laffite. The team's first win was at the 1977 Swedish Grand Prix, the team took nine victories, fifty podiums, and one came second in the Constructors' Championship. In 1997, the team was sold to four-time World Champion Alain Prost who renamed the team Prost Grand Prix.
1976-1978: The beginningsEdit
In 1976, Ligier entered Formula One with their single driver Jacques Laffite and their car, the JS5. Laffite secured one pole position and three podiums, and the team finished fifth in the Drivers' Championship.
But again in 1978, Ligier decided to enter with only a single driver for the season. The team had a decent reliability, finishing 14 out of 16 races during the season.
1979-1980: Switch to Ford enginesEdit
For the 1979 season, Ligier switched to Ford Cosworth engines. The team recruited fellow Frenchman Patrick Depailler to race for the team. The team's car, the JS11, was an improvement over the predecessor, securing three wins, five podiums, four pole positions and two fastest laps just before Depailler was in a hang-gliding accident, resting him out for the rest of the season and being replaced by Belgian Jacky Ickx.
Ligier signed Didier Pironi from Tyrrell for the 1980 season, while Laffite was retained for another season. It was the team's most successful year, finishing in second in the Constructors' Championship with 66 points. After the season, Pironi landed a seat at Ferrari.
1981-1982: Matra enginesEdit
Ligier's drivers for the 1981 season were Jacques Laffite and Jean-Pierre Jabouille, but due to Jabouille's crash at the Canadian Grand Prix last year, Jean-Pierre Jarier were the team's temporary driver for the first two races of the season.
Jabouille returned for the Argentine Grand Prix, but he was not fully fit and decided to retire from Formula One racing, being replaced by Patrick Tambay for the remainder of the season. He then became the team manager the following year in 1982.
Tambay failed to finish any race during the season, retiring from all eight races, while Laffite secured two wins, seven podiums and a single pole position and fastest lap.
For 1982, the team signed Eddie Cheever from Tyrrell. Despite a few podiums scored, the team were not competitive as they were in the previous years, and finished eighth in the Constructors' Championship.
1983: Return to FordEdit
The 1983 season was a disappointment for the team. Having two drivers Jean-Pierre Jarier and Raul Boesel recruited, the team failed to score any points and failed to qualify two times during the season.
1984-1986: Supply from RenaultEdit
After a disappointing 1983 season, the team owner Guy Ligier secured the use of Renault V6 turbocharged engines for 1984. The team signed François Hesnault and Andrea de Cesaris for the season. However, it was another unsuccessful year for Ligier, securing only three points and a 9th place in the Constructors' Championship.
1985 was a major improvement for the team after an unsuccessful season the previous year. Laffite returned to the team after two unsuccessful years at Williams, with de Cesaris being retained for another year. The team, with their JS25 car and the Renault engines secured two third places at Britain and Germany. However, at the Austrian Grand Prix, Andrea de Cesaris destroyed his car in a high-speed roll-over crash on lap 14. As the team had not yet seen the accident on the television monitors, he told the team that the car stalled and that he could not restart it, until the team saw the crash on replay and were shocked. Guy Ligier fell out with de Cesaris and he was sacked from the team, being replaced by Philippe Streiff for the remainder of the season.
Ligier finished off their season with a double podium at the Australian Grand Prix, with Laffite finishing second and Streiff third.
For 1986, former Ferrari driver René Arnoux was hired by the team, partnering alongside Jacques Laffite. The team were competitive throughout the season until Laffite had a big accident at the British Grand Prix, breaking both his legs and retiring from Formula One. After the accident, Philippe Alliot was his replacement for the rest of the season, but the team could only manage four points. Ligier finished their season in fifth in the Constructors' Championship.
1987-1991: The struggleEdit
In 1987, the team signed Piercarlo Ghinzani to partner alongside Arnoux. Ligier were originally supposed to be supplied by Alfa Romeo engines, but due to Arnoux's criticism of the engine, Alfa Romeo pulled the plug on the project, leaving the team without any engine supplier. The team did not participated in the season-opening Brazilian Grand Prix until the team acquired the supply of Megatron, which was the old BMW M12 engine used by teams such as Brabham the previous year.
As a result of the engine supply change, the team struggled throughout the season and could only score a single point at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Ghinzani signed for Zakspeed at the end of the season, so Ligier signed Stefan Johansson for the next year.
Johansson left the team and the team replaced him with Olivier Grouillard. As Ligier switched to Ford engines, the 1989 season was another unsuccessful year, with the team failing to qualify 11 times, despite finishing in the points at Canada and France.
In 1991, both drivers Larini and Alliot were replaced by Williams driver Thierry Boutsen and International F3000 champion Érik Comas. With a switch to the Lamborghini engines previously supplied by Lotus and Larrousse, the team faced another disappointing start to the season, with the car designers Michel Beaujon and Claude Galopin being sacked by the team owner Guy Ligier. Frank Dernie and Gérard Ducarouge were recruited by the team mid-season and upgraded the JS35 to the B-spec version of the car.
1992-1993: The step-upEdit
For the 1992 season, the team returned to supply the Renault V10 engines and retained both drivers from the previous season. It proved to be an improvement for the team, culminating two fifth and sixth place finishes.
The 1993 season saw both drivers replaced by two British drivers Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell, who previously drove for Benetton and Brabham respectively. Ligier kickstarted their season with Blundell finishing in third place at the South African Grand Prix, the team's first podium since the 1986 Detroit Grand Prix. Results continued to improve for the remainder of the season, and due to the improvement, both drivers left the team to race for McLaren and Tyrrell respectively.
1994-1996: Briatore and Walkinshaw's takeoverEdit
After both drivers from the previous year left the team, the team signed both Frenchmen Éric Bernard and Olivier Panis for 1994. The B-spec version of the JS39 was not as competitive as its predecessor, but was the most reliable car out of all other cars during the season. In the German Grand Prix, the team secured their double podium finish of the season, with Panis finishing second and Bernard third.
Late in 1994, Flavio Briatore purchased the team.
The team signed Aguri Suzuki to partner alongside Olivier Panis for the 1995 season, meanwhile Brundle shared seats with Suzuki for a few rounds. With the Mugen-Honda engines supplied for the season, the team went competitive through the season. Suzuki retired from Formula One after a qualifying accident in the Japanese Grand Prix, and Brundle left to race with Jordan the following year.
For the 1996 season, Pedro Diniz signed for the team from Forti, meanwhile the team retained Panis for another year. At the Monaco Grand Prix, Panis secured the team's first victory since the Canadian Grand Prix. To date, it is the last victory for a French Formula One driver.
|1976, 1985-1986||Equipe Ligier|
|1980, 1983, 1985, 1990–1991||Equipe Ligier Gitanes|
|1981–1982||Equipe Talbot Gitanes|
|1984, 1987–1989||Ligier Loto|
|1992–1995||Ligier Gitanes Blondes|
|1996||Ligier Gauloises Blondes|
Equipe Ligier Driver CountEdit
|Name||Duration||Grand Prix Starts|
|Martin Brundle||1993, 1995||27|
|Andrea de Cesaris||1984–1985|
|Philippe Alliot||1986, 1990||23|
|Jean-Pierre Jarier||1977, 1981, 1983||18|