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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.

The chassis names, e.g. JS5, were named of honour of Jo Schlesser (J. S.), who was a friend of Guy Ligier.

History[]

1976-1978: The beginnings[]

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.

The following year in 1977, the JS7 secured the team's first win at the Swedish Grand Prix. Fellow French driver Jean-Pierre Jarier entered the team at the final round in Japan.

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 engines[]

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 engines[]

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 Ford[]

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 Renault[]

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 struggle[]

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.

However, the 1988 season would be worse for the team. With a switch to the under-powered Judd engine, the team failed to score any points during the season, also failing to qualify eight times.

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.

Both drivers would be replaced by Nicola Larini and Philippe Alliot for 1990. Despite a fine reliability with the Ford engines, the team failed to score points during the season.

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-up[]

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 takeover[]

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.

Bernard was dropped after the Portuguese Grand Prix and was replaced by Johnny Herbert for the European Grand Prix, until Franck Lagorce raced for the last two rounds.

Late in 1994, Flavio Briatore purchased the team.

For the 1995 season, Tom Walkinshaw bought 50% of the Ligier team. He intended to take over the team completely but could not purchase the remaining stake of the team, pulling him out of the deal.

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.

After the season, Alain Prost bought the team and renamed it to Prost Grand Prix for 1997. The team would continue on until it folded at the end of 2001.

Team Record[]

Team Names[]

Years Name
1976, 1985-1986 Equipe Ligier
1977-1979 Ligier Gitanes
1980, 1983, 1985, 19901991 Equipe Ligier Gitanes
19811982 Equipe Talbot Gitanes
1984, 19871989 Ligier Loto
19921995 Ligier Gitanes Blondes
1996 Ligier Gauloises Blondes

Season-by-season record[]

Year Chassis Engine Tyre No. Drivers Rounds WCC Pts. WCC Pos. Test Drivers Report
1976 JS5 Matra MS73 3.0 V12 G 26 France Jacques Laffite All 20 6th Report
1977 JS7 Matra MS76 3.0 V12 G 26 France Jacques Laffite All 18 8th Austria Niki Lauda Report
27 France Jean-Pierre Jarier 17
1978 JS7
JS7/9
JS9
Matra MS76 3.0 V12
Matra MS78 3.0 V12
G 26 France Jacques Laffite All 19 6th United Kingdom Jackie Stewart Report
1979 JS11 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G 25 France Patrick Depailler 1–7 61 3rd Report
Belgium Jacky Ickx 8–15
26 France Jacques Laffite All
1980 JS11/15 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G 25 France Didier Pironi All 66 2nd Report
26 France Jacques Laffite All
1981 JS17 Matra MS81 3.0 V12 M 25 France Jean-Pierre Jarier 1–2 44 4th Report
France Jean-Pierre Jabouille 3–7
France Patrick Tambay 8–15
26 France Jacques Laffite All
1982 JS17
JS17B
JS19
Matra MS81 3.0 V12 M 25 United States Eddie Cheever 1–3, 5–16 20 8th Report
26 France Jacques Laffite 1–3, 5–16
1983 JS21 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8
Ford Cosworth DFY 3.0 V8
M 25 France Jean-Pierre Jarier All 0 France Michel Ferté
France Jean-Pierre Jabouille
Argentina Carlos Reutemann
Report
26 Brazil Raul Boesel All
1984 JS23
JS23B
Renault EF4 1.5 V6t M 25 France François Hesnault All 3 10th Report
26 Italy Andrea de Cesaris All
1985 JS25 Renault EF4B 1.5 V6t P 25 Italy Andrea de Cesaris 1–11 23 6th France Philippe Alliot
France Michel Ferté
France Philippe Streiff
Report
France Philippe Streiff 12–14, 16
26 France Jacques Laffite 1–14, 16
1986 JS27 Renault EF4B 1.5 V6t P 25 France René Arnoux All 29 5th France Didier Pironi Report
26 France Jacques Laffite 1–9
France Philippe Alliot 10–16
1987 JS29B
JS29C
Megatron M12/13 1.5 L4t G 25 France René Arnoux 2–16 1 11th Report
26 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani 2–16
1988 JS31 Judd CV 3.5 V8 G 25 France René Arnoux All 0 Switzerland Franco Forini
France Olivier Grouillard
France Jacques Laffite
Report
26 Sweden Stefan Johansson All
1989 JS33 Ford Cosworth DFR 3.5 V8 G 25 France René Arnoux All 3 13th France Jean-Louis Schlesser Report
26 France Olivier Grouillard All
1990 JS33B Ford Cosworth DFR 3.5 V8 G 25 Italy Nicola Larini All 0 Belgium Thierry Boutsen
France Emmanuel Collard
France Érik Comas
Report
26 France Philippe Alliot All
1991 JS35
JS35B
Lamborghini 3512 3.5 V12 G 25 Belgium Thierry Boutsen All 0 France Emmanuel Collard Report
26 France Érik Comas All
1992 JS37 Renault RS3C 3.5 V10 G 25 Belgium Thierry Boutsen All 6 8th France Alain Prost Report
26 France Érik Comas All
1993 JS39 Renault RS5 3.5 V10 G 25 United Kingdom Martin Brundle All 23 5th France Éric Bernard Report
26 United Kingdom Mark Blundell All
1994 JS39B Renault RS6 3.5 V10 G 25 France Éric Bernard 1–13 13 6th France Franck Lagorce
Finland JJ Lehto
Germany Jörg Müller
Italy Max Papis
Germany Michael Schumacher
Report
United Kingdom Johnny Herbert 14
France Franck Lagorce 15–16
26 France Olivier Panis All
1995 JS41 Mugen-Honda MF-301 3.0 V10 G 25 Japan Aguri Suzuki 1–3, 9, 15–16 24 5th France Emmanuel Collard
Ireland Derek Daly
France Jeremie Dufour
France Franck Lagorce
Italy Vincenzo Sospiri
Report
United Kingdom Martin Brundle 4–8, 10–14, 17
26 France Olivier Panis All
1996 JS43 Mugen-Honda MF-301HA 3.0 V10 G 9 France Olivier Panis All 15 6th United Kingdom Kelvin Burt
Sweden Kenny Bräck
United Kingdom Damon Hill
France Jacques Laffite
Brazil Tarso Marques
Japan Shinji Nakano
Japan Aguri Suzuki
Netherlands Jos Verstappen
Report
10 Brazil Pedro Diniz All

Equipe Ligier Driver Count[]

Name Duration Grand Prix Starts
France Jacques Laffite 19761986 134
France René Arnoux 19861989 63
France Olivier Panis 19941996 49
Belgium Thierry Boutsen 19911992 32
France Érik Comas
United Kingdom Martin Brundle 1993, 1995 27
Italy Andrea de Cesaris 19841985
France Philippe Alliot 1986, 1990 23
France Jean-Pierre Jarier 1977, 1981, 1983 18
United Kingdom Mark Blundell 1993 16
Brazil Pedro Diniz 1996
Italy Nicola Larini 1990
France Olivier Grouillard 1989
Sweden Stefan Johansson 1988
France François Hesnault 1984
United States Eddie Cheever 1982
Brazil Raul Boesel 1983 15
France Didier Pironi 1980 15
France Éric Bernard 1994 13
Belgium Jacky Ickx 1979 8
France Patrick Tambay 1981
France Patrick Depailler 1979 7
Japan Aguri Suzuki 1995 6
France Franck Lagorce 1994 2
United Kingdom Johnny Herbert 1994 1
V T E France Equipe Ligier
Founder
Guy Ligier
Personnel
Ken Anderson · Loïc Bigois · Flavio Briatore · Cyril de Rouvre · Frank Dernie · Richard Divila · Gérard Ducarouge · Claude Galopin · Tom Walkinshaw
Drivers
France René Arnoux · France Patrick Depailler · France Jacques Laffite · France Didier Pironi · Italy Andrea de Cesaris · Belgium Thierry Boutsen · France Olivier Panis · United Kingdom Martin Brundle
Cars
JS5 · JS7 · JS7/9 · JS9 · JS11 · JS11/15 · JS17 · JS17B · JS19 · JS21 · JS23 · JS25 · JS27 · JS29 · JS29B · JS31 · JS31B · JS33 · JS33B · JS35 · JS35B · JS37 · JS39 · JS39B · JS41 · JS43
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