Automobiles Martini was established by Renato “Tico” Martini in 1965, when Martini and partner Bill Knight founded the Winfield Racing School at the Magny-Cours circuit, in France. During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Martini constructed cars for Formula Three, Formula Renault and other lower formulae, where Martini racing team was quite successful. Tico Martini made his decision to move up to F1 at the end of 1975, and started work on the F1 design in mid-1976. The monocoque showed similarities to the very successful 1977 Formula 2 MK22, but the greater fuel load required a major change to weight distribution, with driver sitting further forward in the car. When the car was completed in 1978, the design had been completely outdated. Martini team used Cosworth engines, Hewland transmission, and Goodyear tyres. Sponsorship came from RMO, a recruitment agency, Silver Match, a maker of cigarette lighters, and the ever-present Elf. Hugues de Chaunac would run the team, although Tico Martini, as team principal, planned to attend most races. The single MK23 chassis was given to René Arnoux, who won 1977 European F2 championship driving Martini Mk22 car. Martini Mk23 was too conventional, too unreliable, and, ultimately, just not quick enough. With several DNQ and DNPQ Arnoux finished best ninth in Belgium and Austria, but De Chaunac conceded that the car was too slow, and there was no point in continuing.
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