Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Ayrton Senna's Lotus years, by Ibrar Malik

As we mark the upcoming 26th anniversary of Ayrton Senna's passing, most will undoubtedly dwell upon the more celebrated cornerstones of his extraordinary career. His obliteration of the opposition during qualifying at Monaco '88, or the race at Donington Park '93. His compelling personality which shone through during interviews. Or what might have been with Williams had he not tragically met his untimely death at the '94 San Marino Grand Prix. This blog aims to be slightly different, by briefly looking at Senna's formative years at Lotus.

Coming into 1985, the Norfolk-based team had not won a race since the sudden death of its charismatic founder, Colin Chapman, in December 1982. Lotus had endured a turbulent '83 season. But it bounced back superbly to become a regular frontrunner again during '84, enjoying its most successful season since 1978. The newly-released book, Team Lotus: Beyond the Colin Chapman Era, details precisely how the team achieved this. But by the end of '84, it seemed a key ingredient to elevate Lotus back to the winner's circle was missing. Enter, Ayrton Senna – Lotus's new signing for 1985. 

Senna was widely touted as a future world champion following his stellar performances within the unfancied Toleman during 1984

Monday, 13 April 2020

Monza 1994 - Team Lotus's Last Hurrah, by Ibrar Malik

One of the victims from a turbulent 1994 F1 season was Team Lotus, which finally succumbed to its financial struggles during the year. Like Brabham two years earlier, a once-great name would vanish from F1. Lotus was Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi as well as Ayrton Senna's first top team in F1. The upcoming 1983-'89 Lotus book (http://www.1994f1.com/lotusprintbook/) charts how Team Lotus went from being regular a frontrunner during the mid-1980s to a midfielder only a few years later.

After its release on May 1 2020, we then intend to write a follow-up print book covering the team's final years of 1990-'95. This follow-up book explains how Lotus then changed ownership at the end of '90 and went from merely surviving that winter to finishing an incredible fifth in the '92 constructors' championship. It seemed the former seven-time world champion team was on a clear upward trajectory having re-establishing itself as a regular point scorer. More good news came in the form of its leading driver, Johnny Herbert, re-signing within the team for another five years by the end of 1992. Unfortunately this revival under Peter Collins proved short lived because behind the scenes debts were still piling up. The team only survived two more seasons in F1 after '92.