Arnoux's career began in Formule Renault and he first moved into Formula Two in 1974 with Elf, taking fourth place on his debut at Nogaro. In 1975 he moved to Formule Super Renault and won the title. For 1976, Arnoux moved back to Formula Two with an Elf-sponsored, works Martini-Renault, winning three races and narrowly losing the title to Jean-Pierre Jabouille. However, he won the 1977 European Championship, again driving a Martini-Renault. Arnoux won races at Silverstone, Hockenheim, Pau and Nogaro, which along with second places at Enna-Pergusa and Estoril saw him finish 12 points clear of American Eddie Cheever who was driving for Ron Dennis' Project Four Racing, and 14 points clear of teammate Didier Pironi.