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Lotus 99T
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The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

In the hands of Ayrton Senna the actively suspended 99T would be the last F1 race-winning Lotus but, as STUART CODLING reveals, it was a complicated machine that caused more problems than it solved

It would be unfair to call the 99T the car that killed Team Lotus, but the circumstances surrounding its conception would hasten the end of a company which was already struggling to live up to its
hallowed reputation.

The 99T’s predecessors, the 97T of 1985 and 98T of 1986, overseen by technical director Gerard Ducarouge, had been competitive enough to win races but insufficiently reliable to build a championship challenge. Engines and gearboxes had been unreliable and the swap from Pirelli to Goodyear tyres hadn’t delivered all the performance gains anticipated. Star driver Ayrton Senna was beginning to chafe.

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