Automobiles Martini was a French race car manufacturer from Nevers, the customer vehicles for different racing classes produced since the late 1960s and in 1978 was engaged in the short term with its own team in Formula 1.
The company was founded in 1965 by Renato " Tico " Martini. Martini had completed at the beginning of the 1960s an education as a driver at the Winfield Racing Driver School in Magny Cours. After completing his training, he opened a workshop next to the race track, in which first the formula repaired 3 cars of the racing school. In 1969, designed and built Martini in his operating their own racing cars for the Formula 3 as well as for the Formula Renault, which were first used by the Winfield School, but later sold to racers and have been used in national competitions. Martini Formula 3 cars have been successfully used, among other things by the French ORECA team; far as they were equipped with Renault engines, they dominated the mid-1970s, the French Formula 3 series. Between 1975 and 1978, constructed several Martini racing cars for Formula 2, which were mainly, Renault occasionally but with also with BMW engines. The cars were well constructed and at times clearly superior. Jacques Laffite won in 1975 in a Martini Mk 16 with BMW engine for the Ecurie Elf Ambrozium Formula 2 Championship, equal succeeded René Arnoux in 1977 with the Renault engine driven by a Martini Mk 22 Individual Martini vehicles were also customer teams passed; to them the Italian Scuderia Everest.1978 was finally tried Martini with a private car and a factory team in Formula 1; this project but was prematurely terminated after eight unsuccessful attempts verlaufenen. After that Martini focused back on the Formula 3 for which it built solid cars but after initial successes were increasingly overshadowed by the competition from Ralt, Reynard and Dallara since the mid- 1980s. In addition, Martini constructed now also vehicles for national sports car racing, special for the group CN. A brief return to Formula 2 with ORECA brought in 1983 and 1984 have not had any success. 2004 sold Tico Martini its operation to Guy Ligier.
Martini in Formula 1
Inspired by the success of Renault and Ligier, located Automobiles Martini committed in 1978 for a short time with a factory team in Formula 1, the car, the Tico Martini had designed essentially self, was a so-called modular vehicle which used numerous components from UK suppliers. Thus came the eight-cylinder Cosworth DFV and Hewland gearbox supplied. The blue-white- red-painted Martini Mk 23 was not designed for ground effect, which developed since at least this season to a significant design feature for Formula 1 cars. The team was sponsored by Elf Aquitaine and of the national employment agency Rombo. As a driver René Arnoux was obliged to contest its first race in Formula 1 here.
Automobiles Martini debuted in the third race of the year, the Grand Prix of South Africa. Arnoux missed here as well as at the next use of the team in Monte Carlo qualification. On the third try of the team, the Belgian Grand Prix, Arnoux came to his first race participation. He came as ninth. At the Grand Prix of France Arnoux was Fourteenth, and in Austria he came again as ninth. There were no more results. The last use of the team at Zandvoort to Tico Martini decided before the start of the qualification to halt its Formula 1 program; then he pulled his team back immediately.