Enthusiasts Forbidden: The Lotus 88 with double chassis for the 1981 F1 season

11:25  18 april  2020
11:25  18 april  2020 Source:   formel1.de

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The Lotus 88 is an innovative ground effect Formula One car designed by Colin Chapman, Peter Wright, Tony Rudd and Martin Ogilvie of Lotus in an effort to maximise the downforce produced by ground effects cars.

The Lotus 88 was a truly unique Formula 1 car, pioneering a twin- chassis design concept which aimed to take Developed by Colin Chapman, Peter Wright, Tony Rudd and Martin Ogilvie, the Lotus 88 debuted in practice at Long Beach for the 1981 season opening round, but was heavily protested

Colin Chapman wanted to avoid a rule change with the Lotus 88 in the 1981 Formula 1 season, but his clever design was not allowed to compete

Der Lotus 88 für die Formel-1-Saison 1981 mit seinem kuriosen Doppelchassis © Motorsport Images The Lotus 88 for the 1981 Formula 1 season with its curious double chassis

Working with the gray areas of the regulations was a tradition at Lotus. The Colin Chapman racing team was one of the most innovative teams in Formula 1 in the 1960s and 1970s, but Chapman did not always get away with his ideas. His Lotus 88, for example, was built, but was banned before the first race.

But one after the other. The principle of the floor effect, which Chapman used in the Lotus 88, had already entered Formula One years earlier. In 1974,

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The 1981 FIA Formula One World Championship was the 35th season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 1981 Formula One World Championship for Drivers and the 1981 Formula One World Championship for Constructors

The Lotus 88 was Colin Chapman's ingenious attempt to continue Team Lotus ' reputation as an avant-garde pioneer in Formula 1 , but his twin- chassis solution was banned before it could race.

Brabham created a vacuum in the car with a fan under the vehicle, in 1977 Lotus developed the first floor effect car with side skirts. As a result, the cornering speeds increased immensely, the Formula 1 cars became faster and faster. And the Lotus 88 for 1981 saw itself as an extreme development of this concept.

How Lotus used the floor effect without aprons

But there was a catch: the side aprons had been banned in the meantime. As a result, the teams had lost a patented means of delimiting their air duct tunnels to the side, and the aerodynamic effect of the ground-effect vehicles had been dramatically reduced.

The Lotus 88 cleverly circumvented this prohibition: with a double chassis. Lotus had already experimented with this with the Model 86, but found the vehicle to be ineffective in favor of the version with aprons and therefore did not use it in Formula 1 races. In 1981, however, the double chassis concept made its comeback in an improved form.

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Email to a Friend The Lotus 88 Cosworth as it was run in practice for the 1980 USA West GP at Long Beach by Elio de Angelis. A fine Minichamps model.

Simple Explanation on how the concept of the Lotus 88 . This car was planned to compete in the 1981 Formula 1 GP World Championship. It was however banned from racing, due to it having a double chassis .

Chapman provided its new development with an inner and an outer chassis, both of which were sprung completely separately. The inner chassis served as the base vehicle, the outer chassis as the aerodynamic optimization placed over it.

What rules Lotus stumbled upon

The Lotus 88 was so completely aerodynamic and took advantage of the floor effect inside the vehicle instead of just with air tunnels underneath - and without the now prohibited side skirts.

The principle behind it was as simple as it was ingenious: the faster the car drove, the lower the outer chassis, passed the forces on to the inner chassis and thus optimized the aerodynamic performance.

But even then the Formula 1 rules said: "Aerodynamic parts must not move in relation to the sprung parts of the vehicle." This passage can still be found in a similar form in the Grand Prix regulations.

What happened to the Lotus 88

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From 1981 on, the FIA forbade movable skirts at the side of the car, and thus seriously limited the ground effect of cars drastically. That's why the Lotus 88 was built, a car which by careful (yet legal) manipulation of the rule book, featured two chassis !

Lotus 88 1981 twin chassis concept Giorgio Piola. hundreds of bankers, traders and lawyers in several countries as they try to account for the billions of euros in taxpayer funds that they say were reaped.

This very specification became a stumbling block for Chapman and Lotus. No sooner had the Lotus 88 taken to the track for the first time in the Formula 1 World Championship in training for the opening race in Long Beach in 1981 than protests from the competition were hailing.

Then the world automobile association said a word of power and declared the Lotus 88 illegal. The vehicle therefore did not go beyond training runs in individual races, only drove at four events with Elio de Angelis and Nigel Mansell.

Chapman did not give up his invention lightly, however, but struggled with the rule-makers and the opposing teams for the approval of the car, ultimately without success: The FIA ​​threatened Lotus with the World Cup exclusion, so Chapman finally gave in and modified Lotus-87- Vehicles sat.

But his technical advance was not completely in vain: In a disarmed version, Lotus took up some elements of the special Lotus 88 aerodynamics for the successor vehicle Lotus 91. The double chassis concept disappeared.

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This is interesting!