|Based in: Vichy (1976-88), Magny Cours (1988-96)|
Founded: 1969 (active 1976-1996)
Principal: Guy Ligier
Guy Ligier, the team founder, started his working life as a butcher's assistant. He later went on to play international rugby for France before making his fortune with a road construction company that was responsible for building most of France's autoroutes
Guy was always something of a motor racing enthusiast and he drove Cooper-Maseratis and a Brabham-Repco in the mid-1960s, before joining forces with his long standing friend Jo Schlesser to drive Formula Two McLarens in 1968. Ligier was deeply affected by his friend's death in the French Grand Prix of 1968 and withdrew from driving for several years. He joined forces with the designer Michel Tetu and ran GT sports cars with all his cars designated 'JS' in memory of Schlesser.
In 1975 Guy Ligier scored a second place in the Le Mans 24 hours with backing from the Gitanes cigarette company who expressed their interest in moving into Formula 1. At the time France did not really have a major presence in the series following the withdrawal fo Matra. Ligier recruited former Matra engineer Gerard Ducarouge and the first Formula 1 Ligier, the JS5, arrived on the scene in 1976. Formula Two star Jacques Laffite was chosen to drive and with Matra supplying the engines it was a true French effort that took to the grid. Laffite qualified the car on pole at Monza and it finally looked like France could mount a series assault on the world title.
The next car, the JS7, proved even better and took the team's first win at Anderstorp the following year. It was the first win by a French driver in a French car with a French engine since the World Championship series had begun in 1950. Laffite failed to capitalise on his Swedish win and it was not until 1979 that the team looked like fulfilling their potential, with the arrival of the JS11, Ligier's first ground effect car. Laffite won the first two races of the season, while new team-mate Patrick Depailler, took a win in Spain. Depailler, famous for his love of dangerous sports, then broke both ankles in a hang-gliding accident and was replaced by the veteran Belgian racer, Jacky Ickx. Despite the teams best efforts the championship was being decided elsewhere as Williams unveiled the stunning FW07 and Ferrari's 312T4 was proving more than capable of securing Scheckter's title.
For 1980 Ligier recruited Pironi who scored a win in Belgium before quitting to join Ferrari. That was the best it ever got for Ligier and in 1992 there was a slim chance of Prost signing for the team. Despite testing Prost elected to take a year off instead. By now Ligier himself had reduced his involvement in the team and he eventually sold out to Cyril de Rouvre in 1993, who endede up in gaol on financial charges. The team was rescued by Benetton's Flavio Briatore who took control during 1994 and recruited the reigning Formula 3000 champion Olivier Panis. Panis had a stunning debut season in 1995 managing to finish in 15 of the 16 races. He scored the teams final win, albeit in bizarre circumstances, at Monaco in 1996. At the end of the year Alain Prost bought the team and renamed it.
Yet another great name was gone from the circuits, although at least it was replaced by one of more than equal stature.
|Car designation||Race years|
|Ligier JS7||1977 - 1978|
|Ligier JS17||1981 - 1982|