The man who, as marketing manager for the fledgling French petroleum company Elf, effectively engineered the Pilote Elf program that generated the influx of French drivers into Formula One that began in the late ’60s, François Guiter, has died at the age of 86.
Although as a youth he served with the French Resistance during World War II, then later worked with legendary deep-sea diver Jacques Cousteau, perhaps Guiter’s most remarkable trait was his apparent aversion to self-promotion. He retired from Elf in 1989, but continued to work as a consultant for the program he created, but which Elf eventually let slip away.
Those who benefitted from his support included François Cevert, Patrick Depailler, Jacques Laffite, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Rene Arnoux, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Patrick Tambay and Alain Prost, the latter, of course, becoming France’s first, and so far only, World Champion.
Guiter was also responsible for Elf’s sponsorship of Ken Tyrrell’s Grand Prix team, with which Sir Jackie Stewart won three World Championships, as well as the company’s backing of both French aerospace firm Matra and automaker Renault in their F1 and long-distance racing efforts.
To his family and his many friends in the racing community, Vintage Racecar extends its sincerest sympathies.