How Chapman obsessions lifted and limited Lotus post-Clark
Prime
Formula 1 Special feature

How Chapman obsessions lifted and limited Lotus post-Clark

By:

Gifted, driven, obsessive – Colin Chapman’s ambition drove Lotus to soaring heights, but also into baffling technological cul-de-sacs as his business empire grew and his focus slipped. In the third part of our history of Lotus, DAMIEN SMITH considers the peaks and troughs of the 1970s

Colin Chapman was the (John Player) Special One of grand prix racing in the 1970s. Just not all of the time. For certain generations black and gold fag-packet Lotus racing cars distil the essence of Formula 1 – either in full-scale or Corgi toy form. But the decade in which Lotus clinched four world championships and its drivers three more for themselves was a frustratingly inconsistent one, coloured by golden heights to match the glory days of Jimmy Clark, and offset against the deepest blackspots of mediocrity, misfires and failure.

That was all Chapman: often inspired, always alive to the next big thing, but at times distracted by the burning ambition of a rapidly growing empire. Under a tamer chief, Team Lotus would have churned out a string of solid, conservative F1 cars to level out those peaks and troughs and consolidate the company’s standing as the archetype of British F1 expertise. But conservative simply wasn’t the Colin Chapman way. So it wasn’t Lotus’s either.

shares
comments
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Ferrari puzzled by DRS zone deficit at Styrian GP
Previous article

Ferrari puzzled by DRS zone deficit at Styrian GP

Next article

Wolff finds "Armageddon" radio complaints "highly entertaining"

Wolff finds "Armageddon" radio complaints "highly entertaining"
Load comments