For 1983 the Formula One regulations changed mandating flat bottoms between the front and rear axles, the intention was to outlaw ground effects which Lotus had successfully pioneered with it’s Lotus 79 and less successfully with it’s Lotus 80, 86 and 88 models, all the other teams on the Grand Prix grid had followed the Lotus teams lead with the result that cars were driving around corners so fast they were making the tracks they were driven on obsolete in terms of safety.
Lotus managed to secure a supply of Renault Tubocharged V6 engines, for 1983, to replace the Ford Cosworth V8’s that the team had been using since the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix. These Renault motors were more powerful but also more fragile than the Cosworth’s, they were also in extremely short supply with Renault being able to supply only enough to keep Elio de Angelis on the grid for the first half of the 1983 season in a Lotus Renault Type 93T. Team mate Nigel Mansell had to make do with an interim the Ford Cosworth powered Lotus 92 featured today for the first half of 1983.
The Lotus Renault 92 was devised by Colin Chapman and Martin Ogilvie, however Colin Chapman died in December 1982 and so never saw the car completed, 2 Type 92’s were built using the chassis tubs of the previous Lotus Type 91 featured last week. As well as being the last Ford Cosworth DFV powered Lotus design the Lotus 92 was also the first Formula One car to be fitted with computer managed hydraulic ‘active’ suspension. Nigel Mansell tested the system but did not like it so the idea was shelved pending further development. In 1992 Nigel won his only world championship with Williams in an actively suspended car.
Perhaps unsurprisingly without their energetic leader Lotus floundered in 1983 the Renault powered Lotus 93T recorded a best 9th place with Elio at the wheel and Nigel managed a best 6th place finish at the 1983 Detroit Grand Prix in the Cosworth powered Lotus 92. A decision was taken in June 1983 to employ the recently sacked ALFA Romeo designer Gerard Ducarouge to design a third all new car for 1983.
In six weeks Ducarouge managed to design and deliver two new Lotus Renault T94’s and set in motion a return to winning ways for Team Lotus. The Lotus T92 recorded just 9 starts one for de Angelis in Brazil at the beginning of the season where he was disqualified for starting the race in the Cosworth powered car in which he had not set a qualifying time, after his Renault powered 93T broke down on the warm up lap and 8 starts for Mansell who along side his 6th place finish in Detroit recorded three 12th place finishes and four retirements, which was three more finishes than the Lotus Renault 93 T managed.
The first photo show’s Mercedes Benz GP reserve driver Brendon Hartley at last years Goodwood Festival of Speed and the third show’s 92/5’s previous owner Kiwi Roger Wills at the wheel during the 2011 Silverstone Classic meeting.
My thanks to Roger for clarifying Brendon Hartley’s identity.
Thanks for joining me on this “Active Suspension” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !