Every petrolhead must to know the famous brand that has sponsored a lot of wonderful cars making them some of the coolest icons in the world. This brand is 100% italian; it's called "Martini", and it's not just a symbol refer of the drinks company but it also represents its racing soul, : in fact, the complete name is "Martini Racing".
This brand for the majority of people is linked to Lancia and its numerous rally victories. However the Martini Racing's history not started with Lancia: there have been other legendary cars that adopted Martini Racing's stickers on their bodies.
Lancia 037 with Martini Racing's sticker
Martini Racing's livery is characterized by blue, sky blue and red stripes, that covered many parts of the car. The body paint, usually, is white, but there have been cars that used a different main colour, like red. On the car, together the stripes, there is also the logo or sometimes there is just the "MARTINI RACING" logo written in letters.
Porsche 917 K, the car that signed the first success of the brand
Martini Racing's first approach with motorsport has been in 1968, at Hockenheimring in Germany. Two years later, Martini Racing Team bought two Porsches 917, in K and LH version, for the 24 hours of LeMans 24 Hours competition. Porsche was the first car brand sponsored by Martini Racing.
The first success for Martini was in 1971 with number 22 Porsche 917 K after winning the 24 hours of Le Mans defeating the other Porsche 917. The 917 K was driven by Gijs Van Lennep and Helmut Marko; The drivers of 917 LH were Gerard Larousse and Vic Helford.
In 1972 happened the first approach to Formula 1. The Italian team Tecno had the chance to sponsor the brand with their cars. The drivers were Nanni Galli, Derek Bell and, in 1973, Chris Amon. However, the relationship between Martini Racing and Tecno was ended because there weren't brilliant results.
Nanni Galli's PA 123-3
Esthetically, Tecno's cars had red body paint with Martini Racing's stripes positioned under the driver's space.
Luckily, Formula 1 and LeMans weren't the only brand's interests. From 1972 to 1974 Martini Racing continued the partnership with Porsche, and this time in the rallies. The cars that "dressed" the brand's livery are 911 RSR Turbo and 908, prepared for the World Manufacturer Championship.
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo
Van Lennep's Porsche 908
Porsche style colour's car are the same: white or grey body paint with Martini Racing blue and red stripes.
Martini Racing returns to Formula 1 with Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham Team, in 1975. This time there have been some wins: Carlos Reutemann, Brabham's driver, achieved many podiums. The first Brabham with Martini Racing's stickers was the BT44; this car was nearly almost 100% white and had not so many stickers on it. The Martini Racing livery covered only the higher part and a little part on the side of the car.
Carlos Reutemann's Brabham BT44
Next year, after replacing Cosworth engines to Alfa Romeo's ones, the main color of the car became red. Anyway, Martini Racing returned to sponsor red cars, similar to the Tecno used in 1972. However, the Brabham BT45 wasn't very competitive: just Niki Lauda managed to achieve two podiums.
Carlos Reutemann's Brabham BT45
In 1976 another new partnership with Porsche for LeMans Challenge and Endurance Champioship. For Le Mans Porsche used the 936, a timeless classic car whit usual scheme with white body and blue-red stripes that covered half the car. Porsche 936 was a very successful car. It won in 1976, 1977, 1981 and achieved a second place in 1978 at LeMans. However in 1981, there was no more Martini Racing's sponsor.
Also the Porsche 935 had a white bodypaint with Martini Racing's stripes. But, this car was developed by the factory in different version to race in different competitions (among these, the Silverstone 6 Hours, where it won may times).
After three years, Martini Racing returns to Formula 1 with Lotus, for only one year. The Lotus'car was if compared with other Formula 1's cars of the past. This time the chosen colour is the classic Lotus British Racing green: a looking car out of the schemes.
1979 Lotus 80
In 1981 the famous partnership with Lancia started: the "golden era" of Lancia and the their Racing Team. Martini Racing sponsored and managed the legendary Lancia's cars that were used to race in World Rally Championship and World Endurance Championship. Copious wins were achieved in rally with the great cars that we all know made the History of Motorpsort: such as Delta HF (with its evolutions), Delta S4 and 037. Fewer victories were achieved in the World Endurance Championship with Beta Montecarlo Turbo, LC1 and LC2. Lancia's livery scheme was in common with Porsche: classic white with red and blue stripes. All Lancia Martini's cars worn this kinda livery, because on the next cars sponsored by Martini has been sometimes applied a different version with red body paint with blue stripes.
In 1993, Martini put their stickers on the gorgeus Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI in DTM Championship. This car toke its first win in DTM, defeating German cars. The drivers were Nicola Larini and Alessandro Nannini. During that period, Alfa Romeo did also build the Alfa Romeo 155 GTA.
Nicola Larini's Alfa Romeo 155 GTA
After the Lancia's hegemony in rallies, for three years (1994-1996) was up to Ford to show off the Martini's iconic livery on their Escort Cosworth, with the italian driver Gianfranco Cunico. The team achieved three consecutive wins in rallies.
The partnership with Ford continues to 2002, on the new Ford Focus WRC with the most famous drivers: Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz Sr. ; but, didn't win so much, because during the first years the car wasn't too reliable. Their best results has been the second place in the 2000 World Manufactures' Championship.
After the relationship with Ford ended, the brand came back again to Formula 1, with a new partnership with Scuderia Ferrari, in 2006. This time the usual scheme was abandoned, and the brand's stickers were only a little logos on car's bodies.
In 2014, Martini Racing became the title sponsor of Williams F1 team. After 12 years, the classic livery scheme (white body paint with red and blue stripes) was adopted again. The drivers were Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas replaced by Lance Stroll in 2017.
Martini Racing's Histroy is not just motorsport. Even the everyday cars' market has been influenced by the brand: in 1987 the Autobianchi released the Y10 Martini, and it esthetically recalled the classic colors and stripes of the iconic livery. It had an 84 HP (85 CV) 1049 cc Turbo engine.
Autobianchi Y10 Martini with Lancia rally livery
Another strong presence on the market is the Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evo with Martini Racing livery. In 1991 the Lancia Delta HF Integrale Martini 5 was released in only 400 models to commemorate the fifth success in the WRC. Next year, in 1992, Lancia released the Delta HF Integrale Martini 6, another limited editions of just 310 units.
At last, it must be remember that there's even a scooter, that has got the honor "to dress" the colors of the brand: it is the Gilera/Piaggio Typhoon.
About the brand, Martini Racing is one of the World's most popular brand, especially in motorsport. It had a lot of success, but also a lot of failures and it survived anyway. Its popularity in motorsport, influenced the market, and made some models unique. Porsche and Lancia claim their successes also thanks to this brand. It's always a pleasure to see at a lot of expositions Martini Racing's cars. It is considered like an national emblem in Italy.