Moments In Motorsport (34): Matra MS10-DFV

In 1965 the French Matra Corporation, known mostly for its involvement in the world of military defence and aeronautics, took the decision to expand its interests into motorsport. Its Formula 3 and Formula 2 cars surprised the establishment by being competitive from the start, winning the French and European championships.

Moments In Motorsport (34): Matra MS10-DFV


At the time it was permitted to enter Formula 2 cars in grand prix races which helped swell the sometimes sparse grids and when a young Belgian driver, Jackie Ickx, drove his F2 Matra to third place on the grid at the 1967 German grand prix held at the Nurburgring, the motor racing fraternity took notice. Driven by its success, Matra created a Formula 1 car for the 1968 season, the MS10, and retained the services of Ken Tyrrell who had been previously overseen its Formula 2 campaign. Tyrrell had just signed Jackie Stewart, a new driver who showed huge potential. He had previously driven for BRM. Ken and Jackie soon forged a strong relationship as Tyrrell cars went on to dominate Formula 1. Following Ken Tyrrell’s advice, the new MS10 was powered by a Ford-Cosworth DFV engine that was rapidly becoming the grand prix engine of choice although Matra was working on its own V12 engine in addition to entering its own factory team. The first race for the MS10 was the 1968 South African grand prix held on January 1st. Stewart claimed a remarkable third place on the starting grid, just one tenth of a second behind the dominant Lotus 49’s of Jim Clark and Graham Hill. During the gap in the race calendar prior to the second grand prix held in May, the Matra was entered in the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in March 1968. The Matra claimed third place on the starting grid, behind the cars of Bruce McLaren (who dominated both practice and the race) and the BRM V12 of Mike Spence. The first three ran in that order for much of the race until Stewart began to experience problems when the clutch and brakes pedals came loose and began to foul each other. A lap was lost in the pits as a quick repair was carried out and Stewart rejoined, bringing the new Matra home in sixth place. It was part of the learning curve as the team went on the win three grand prix during 1968 with Stewart third in the drivers’ championship. The following season, the Tyrrell-entered Matra-International team dominated, winning six of the eleven grand prix as Stewart claimed the title with the MS10. In 1970, Matra entered its own two-car team powered by its screaming V-12 engine but was unable to record a victory over the next three seasons; the team cars were retired and Matra became an engine supplier.

The photograph shows Jackie Stewart in the Matra MS10 at Brands Hatch during the 1968 Race of Champions, the car devoid of any aerodynamic devices which were to appear over the following year or two as the design of open-wheeled racing cars changed forever.

In the background is the much-missed Brands Hatch timing and lap recording tower which was shortly afterwards demolished for safety reasons; it was well away from the circuit but some drivers still managed to hit it.


From ‘Moments in Motorsport’ by Trevor Legate.