16 February 2020

Fascinating F1 Facts: 75 - A force behind the scenes

Credit is not always given where credit is deserved, particularly when it comes to engineers in motor racing. Everyone is keen to be associated with a successful car, but a poor car is something that no-one wants to be linked to. It is often hard to say who designed what, particularly today when there are hundreds of engineers involved in the design of each car. But even in the old days the difference between technical director and chief designer caused problems.

One man who did not get very much recognition was France’s Paul Carillo, who played a significant role in the sport, although most of the credit for his work went to the ebullient (and very clever) Gérard Ducarouge. The two worked together a lot but people only seem to remember “The Duke”

Carillo was 17 years older than Ducarouge and 10 years older than Bernard Boyer, the other Matra engineer who was often mentioned in relation to the success. In truth, they were all working together.

Born on January 1924, Carillo was trained in aviation. He learned the business with Charles Gourdou, who had been an aircraft manufacturer in the 1920s and 1930s with Jean Leseurre. The Gourdou-Leseurre firm went out of business in 1936 but Gourdou went on working in the aviation business, manufacturing parts, particularly propellers. In 1942 the factory began making parts for Messerschmitts, which got him into trouble after the war when he was arrested as a collaborator. Very rapidly some of Charles de Gaulle’s intelligence people appeared on the scene and explained to the accusers that Monsieur Goudou was actually one of the good guys and had been using his business as a way to monitor the V1 rocket  development programme, which he saw on his visits to Stuttgart, reporting it all back to London.

In 1947, to further his researches, Gourdou built a small windtunnel at his workshops at Saint-Maur, in the south-eastern suburbs of Paris. He tested experimental designs, notably the Makhonine Mak-123, before deciding to sell the factory and retire.

Carillo moved on to a job with the Societe Industrielle pour l’Aéronautique (SIPA), an aircraft manufacturer which had been established by Emile Dewoitine. That did not last very long and he moved on to the Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiques du Centre (SNCAC), another aviation business, which had been formed by the nationalisation and merger of the Farman and Hanriot firms in the mid-1930s. This designed military aircraft but it survived only until 1949, at which point the 25-year-old Carillo moved on to  Avions Hurel-Dubois  in Meudon. That business proved to be a little more stable and he would stay with the firm for the next 13 years, designing civil aircraft.

While he was working there French motorsport was developing with Alpine and Gordini leading the way. There was also Deutsch et Bonnet (DB) building some road-going sports cars and building racing specials for Le Mans. In 1961 Charles Deutsch and René Bonnet agreed to split up. Deutsch wanted to stay with Panhard and Bonnet felt it was better to partner with Renault. So Deutsch formed CD (his initials) and Bonnet established Automobiles René Bonnet. In the years that followed Panhard CDs and René Bonnet Djets raced one another at Le Mans, although neither troubled the dominant Ferraris.

In February 1963 Carillo joined René Bonnet to work on the development of the Djet. Eighteen months later René Bonnet was taken over by the aerospace company Matrain order to create a car division,Matra Automobiles.

Matra wanted to use racing to promote its new business and Carillo was set to work to design the MS1, a single-seater based on a Formule 2 René-Bonnet, powered by a one-litre Renault engine, which had been raced in F2 that season by Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Gerard Laureau

The resulting car was a Formula 3 featuring a Ford 105E engine, tuned by Holbay, which first appeared at Monaco in 1965 in the hands of Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Eric Offenstadt. There was soon a second model called the MS2 and at Reims the MS1 scored its first victory in the Coupe Internationale de Vitesse de Formule 3, with Jean-Pierre Beltoise driving.  Beltoise and Jaussaud finished 1-2 in the French F3 championship that year. In addition to the F3 project Matra Sports ran a sportscar programme with the Djet, driven by Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo, while also building a prototype called the MS3.

The engineering team at Matra grew with Gerard Ducarouge playing a bigger role and Bernard Boyer but Carillo remained a key player.

In 1966 Matra entered F2 witha BRM-engined MS5 chassis for Beltoise and Jo Schlesser, while Ken Tyrrell did a deal to run cars under the Matra International banner for Jackie Stewart and Jacky Ickx. Suddenly, Matras were appearing everywhere and in January 1967 Matra boss Jean-Luc Lagardere met Elf boss Jean Prada at Monaco and it was agreed that Elf would finance the construction of a Matra 3-litre V12 F1 engines. That year Matra Sport ran Beltoise and Servoz-Gavin in Carillo-designed MS5s, powered with Cosworths, while Tyrrell enjoyed more success with Ickx winning the F2 title.  Things were less successful in sports cars with the new MS8 (MS630) crashing at Le Mans and killing the young Roby Weber, but Pescarolo won various races with the car.

In 1968 the company entered F1 with the Matra-powered MS10 for Tyrrell’s Stewart and Servoz-Gavin, while the Matra-powered MS11 was raced by Beltoise. Stewart won three races and finished second in the World Championship.

Beltoise won the European F2 Championship that year as well.

The big year was 1969, however, as Stewart won six races and the World Championship with the MS80 while Beltoise was fifth, both using Cosworth engines. In F2 Servoz-Gavin won the title and the sports cars began to show more pace.

It was at this point that Matra sold its car division to Chrysler France. Matra became Matra-Simca. Matra's insistence on using the V12 meant that Tyrrell decided to become a March customer and then went on to build its own cars. Matra ran V12-engined MS12s. The focus began to switch to winning Le Mans. The F1 programme stopped after poor seasons in 1971 and 1972 with Beltoise and Chris Amon. But in the sports car world the company achieved huge success, winning Le Mans in 1972, 1973 and 1974  and the World Championship of Makes in the latter two years. Boyer and Ducarouge got all the glory.

And then the axe fell, Matra announced it was closing down its competition department. The whole thing was sold to Guy Ligier and the staff started work on a JS5 Formula 1 car, which would be powered by the Matra V12s.

The car made its F1 debut in 1976 with Jacques Laffite driving and the following year the JS7 - a development of the original car - won the Swedish Grand Prix.

The same design team produced the JS9 in 1978 but it was the decision to switch to Cosworth engines in 1979 that really produced a breakthrough with the JS11 fighting for the World Championship with Ferrari, Brabham, Williams and Renault.

The car was revised as the JS11/15 in 1980 and enjoyed more success with Laffite and Didier Pironi but a new alliance with Talbot in 1981 meant a switch back to Matra V12s and although Laffite won twice the JS17s were not as competitive as they might have been.

The 1982 season with the JS19 was disappointing and the team began to run short of money as Talbot gave up on the idea of F1. Ligier became frustrated and fired Ducarouge, while Carillo, who was then nearing the age of 60, faded from the F1 scene. 

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