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Acquiring the Matra F1 team's assets, Ligier entered Formula One in 1976 with a Matra V12-powered car, and won a Grand Prix with Jacques Laffite in 1977. This is generally considered to have been the first all-French victory in the Formula One World Championship.

Guy Ligier and the team in 1978

The deal with Matra ceased in 1979 and Ligier built a Cosworth-powered wing-car, the Ligier JS11. The JS11 began the season winning the first 2 races in the hands of Laffite. However, the JS11 faced serious competition when Williams and Ferrari introduced aerodynamically modified cars.

The JS11 and its successors made Ligier one of the top teams through the early 1980s. Despite substantial sponsorship from Talbot and public French companies - mainly SEITA and Française des Jeux (deals which François Mitterrand helped to put in place) - the competitiveness of the team began to decline around 1982. In the mid 1980s, the team benefitted from a "free" Renault turbo engine deal. This made them more competitive, though not a frontrunner, despite sponsorship from companies such as Gitanes, Loto and elf.

Cooper Climax T53
The 1976 Matra Powered JS5

When Renault left the sport in 1986, Ligier was left without a bona fide engine supplier. An abortive collaboration with Alfa Romeo (due to René Arnoux's harsh criticism on the Alfa Romeo engines) was followed by customer engine deals with Megatron, Judd and Cosworth and then works contracts with Lamborghini, Renault and Mugen-Honda.

Cooper Climax T53
Olivier Panis winning at Monaco in 1996

Ligier's last F1 car, the JS43, driven by Olivier Panis and Pedro Diniz, provided Panis' only F1 victory and Ligier's last, at the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.

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Noted drivers: René Arnoux, Patrick Depailler, Jacques Laffite, Andrea De Cesaris, Olivier Panis.

In the last years Ligier had little public support and lacked funds. Surprisingly, the team was somewhat more competitive during this period, perhaps due to the talents of aerodynamicist Frank Dernie, whose skills had developed the Williams of Alan Jones that so regularly beat the Ligiers in the late 1970s. The talent of the young engineer Loïc Bigois may have played some role as well.

Famous for his histrionics and boisterous pitlane explosions, the recalcitrant Guy Ligier added greatly to the character of Formula One events from the mid 1970s onward, if not through the competitiveness of his teams. As one F1 commentator famously said, "You always had the feeling that even when they were winning they didn't know why...".

Ligier JS7

In 1996, the Mugen Honda-powered JS43 turned out to be a well balanced car, if not on par with the Williams entries. It became a surprise winner as well, with the team taking the chequered flag with Olivier Panis at the Monaco Grand Prix, albeit in a race of heavy attrition. While the victory was a famous moment for French Motorsport, the first "all-French" victory at Monaco since René Dreyfus in Bugatti in 1930.

The Turbo engined JS23 in 1984

The team was sold to Alain Prost soon after and became Prost Grand Prix in 1997. Prost GP, despite substantial financial backing by large private French companies failed to make the team competitive and went bankrupt in 2002.

The team traditionally used numbers 25 and 26.