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Lotus 81

Lotus 81
Category Formula One
Constructor Lotus
Predecessor Lotus 80
Successor Lotus 87
Technical specifications
Chassis Aluminium monocoque
Suspension (front) Double wishbones, coil springs over dampers, anti-roll bar
Suspension (rear) Double wishbones, coil springs over dampers, anti-roll bar
Length 4,623 mm (182.0 in)
Width 2,134 mm (84.0 in)
Height 965 mm (38.0 in)
Axle track Front: 1,700 mm (67 in)
Rear: 1,638 mm (64.5 in)
Wheelbase 2,789 mm (109.8 in)
Engine Ford Cosworth DFV, 2,993 cc (182.6 cu in), 90° V8, NA, mid-engine, longitudinally mounted
Transmission Hewland FGA400 5-speed manual
Weight 580 kg (1,280 lb)
Fuel Essex
Tyres Goodyear
Competition history
Notable entrants Team Essex Lotus
Notable drivers United States Mario Andretti
Italy Elio de Angelis
United Kingdom Nigel Mansell
Debut 1980 Argentine Grand Prix
Races Wins Poles Fastest laps
18 0 0 0
Constructors' Championships 0
Drivers' Championships 0
n.b. Unless otherwise stated, all data refer to
Formula One World Championship Grands Prix only.

The Lotus 81 was a Formula One racing car built by Colin Chapman's Lotus team for the 1980 Formula One season. Unlike many of its illustrious Lotus forbears the 81 was not a terribly innovative or competitive car, coming as it did at a time when Chapman's interest in his racing activities was waning.

Instead it was a very standard ground effect design with sliding skirts and the ubiquitous Cosworth DFV 3.0 litre V8 powerplant. The car was said to generate a great deal of downforce but suffered from excessive pitch sensitivity problems, ultimately leading Chapman to develop the innovative twin-chassis Lotus 88.

Mario Andretti and Elio de Angelis used the 81 in all 14 rounds of the 1980 Formula One world championship, and the car also gave Nigel Mansell his Formula One debut, with the British driver lining up in a total of three races that season. The best result for the car was Elio de Angelis's 2nd place in Brazil.


Chapman had intended to use the Lotus 88 for the 1981 season, but a massive furore over the legality of the new car meant that the 81 was kept on as a stop gap for the first four races, with Mansell taking 3rd place in the Belgian Grand Prix and de Angelis claiming three points finishes, before car was replaced by the Lotus 87.


Complete Formula One results

(key)

Year Team Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Points WCC
1980 Team Lotus Ford Cosworth DFV G ARG BRA RSA USW BEL MON FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA CAN USA 17 5th
United States Mario Andretti Ret Ret 12 Ret Ret 7 Ret Ret 7 Ret 8 Ret Ret 6
Italy Elio de Angelis Ret 2 Ret Ret 10 9 Ret Ret 16 6 Ret 4 10 4
United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Ret Ret DNQ
1981 Team Lotus Ford Cosworth DFV M
G
USW BRA ARG SMR BEL MON ESP FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA CAN CPL 22* 7th
United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Ret 11 Ret 3
Italy Elio de Angelis Ret 5 6 5

* Of those, 9 points were scored with the 81 model.

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