Lotus 97T

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Lotus 97T
1985 Ayrton Senna Lotus 97T at the Renault World Series, Donington Park 2007
Category Formula One
Constructor Lotus
Designer(s) Gérard Ducarouge
Martin Ogilvie
Predecessor 95T
Successor 98T
Technical specifications[1]
Chassis Carbon fibre monocoque
Suspension (front) Springs, Pullrods, Double wishbones
Suspension (rear) Springs, Pullrods, Double wishbones
Axle track Front: 1,740 mm (69 in)
Rear: 1,630 mm (64 in)
Wheelbase 2,730 mm (107 in)
Engine Renault Gordini EF15B 1,492 cc (91.0 cu in) 90° V6 turbocharged mid-engine, longitudinally mounted
Transmission Lotus / Hewland 5-speed manual
Weight 540 kg (1,190.5 lb)
Fuel Elf
Tyres Goodyear
Competition history
Notable entrants John Player Team Lotus
Notable drivers 11. Italy Elio de Angelis
12. Brazil Ayrton Senna
Debut 1985 Brazilian Grand Prix
Races Wins Poles F.Laps
16 3 8 3
Constructors' Championships 0
Drivers' Championships 0

The Lotus 97T was a Formula One racing car designed by Gérard Ducarouge and built by Team Lotus. A development of the Lotus 95T of 1984, it was designed for the 1985 Formula One season by French engineer Gérard Ducarouge. The 97T was powered by the turbocharged 1.5L Renault engine which produced approximately 900 bhp (671 kW; 912 PS) for races, while the Renault's special qualifying engines were reported to produce over 1,000 bhp (746 kW; 1,014 PS). Sponsorship came from John Player Special, French oil company Elf (the official oil of engine supplier Renault) and Olympus Cameras, while the car used Goodyear tyres.

The 97T was a simple design, but was robust and with the powerful Renault engines, it was fast. It used elements from the defunct Lotus 96T Indycar project in the aerodynamics with another innovative piece of Lotus design: an early form of bargeboards. These were placed between the front wheels and the side pods improving airflow around the side of the car. Ducarouge also got around the ban on the 'winglets' seen on the rear wings of the 1984 cars by placing them instead on the rear edges of the side pods.

Lotus' major coup for 1985 was signing rising star Ayrton Senna from the Toleman team to replace long time team driver Nigel Mansell who had signed with Williams. Senna, the first driver signed to the team since the death of Colin Chapman, partnered Italian Elio De Angelis who had finished third in the previous season's drivers' championship and had had many promising results with the 95T.

The 97T was very competitive during the season, taking 8 poles, 7 with Senna and 1 with De Angelis, and 3 wins. Senna's first was a brilliant performance in the Portuguese Grand Prix where he won by over a minute in monsoon conditions. His second came in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, held in wet/dry conditions. De Angelis added a third win (his 2nd and last win in F1, both for Lotus) at the San Marino Grand Prix after original winner Alain Prost (McLaren) was disqualified an hour after the race finished due to his out of fuel McLaren-TAG being 2 kg underweight.

The 97T was fast, but rather unreliable. Although it was clearly the best car on slow and tight circuits like Monaco, Detroit and Adelaide, the Renault engine had only decent reliability and it was not as powerful as the BMW or Honda engines, but about on par with the Ferrari and Porsche units. Senna in particular had a run of bad luck mid season, including a huge crash at in the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard, where he went off at almost 200 mph (322 km/h) going into the Courbe de Signes at the end of the 1.8 km long Mistral Straight; and he retired many times while leading which cost him a possible chance at the world championship. Eventually, Lotus finished fourth in the constructors championship.

In total the Lotus 97T scored 3 victories, 2 second places and 4 third places. The car also achieved 8 pole positions and 3 fastest laps.

The car marked the start of a brief return to the successful days of the 1960s and 1970s for Lotus, which was continued by the 98T of 1986 and the Honda-powered 99T of 1987.

Senna's 97T was added to Gran Turismo 6 via the May 2014 update as part of the game's new feature "Ayrton Senna Tribute" in two liveries: the Gold Leaf livery (identical to that of de Angelis's 97T apart from the driver number and name)[2] and an in-game only "Team Lotus Special" livery (which was used instead of "John Player Special" due to tobacco advertising regulations).[3]

Elio de Angelis driving the 97T at the 1985 German Grand Prix.


Complete Formula One results[edit]

(key) (Results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Team Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Points WCC
1985 John Player Team Lotus Renault Gordini
EF4B / EF15
V6 tc
G BRA POR SMR MON CAN DET FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA BEL EUR RSA AUS 71 4th
Italy Elio de Angelis 3 4 1 3 5 5 5 NC Ret 5 5 6 Ret 5 Ret DSQ
Brazil Ayrton Senna Ret 1 7 Ret 16 Ret Ret 10 Ret 2 3 3 1 2 Ret Ret

-Lotus finished with the same amount of points as the Williams team, but because Williams won one more race than Lotus (Nigel Mansell and Keke Rosberg each won 2 races for Williams while Senna won 2 and de Angelis won 1 race for Lotus), that put Williams third and Lotus fourth in the Constructor's championship.

See also[edit]

References[edit]