How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’
Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era
When Niki Lauda first visited Fiorano he expressed surprise that Ferrari didn’t win all the time, such were the obvious advantages at its disposal. The sentiment fits 1970s Team Lotus too, except it was people, not just its own cutting-edge facilities, that lent ‘Britain’s Ferrari’ its true potency.
First, no team had a force to match Colin Chapman: founder, visionary, pioneer, an inspirational and totemic leader on a never-ceasing quest to discover the next big thing. Then there was his fully-loaded workforce, a talented band of bluff designers, engineers and mechanics – all motor racing lifers – who were pulled along by his example, putting in (and putting up with) the endless string of all-nighters.
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