LOTUS FORD 76

After four very, very successful seasons with the Lotus Ford 72, bringing the team 3 constructors´and 2 drivers´worldchampionships, Colin Chapman decided to start a new technical revolution in Formula One. Together with former McLaren and Brabham designer Ralph Bellamy he created the Mk76 for the 1974 Grand Prix season to continue the series of victories.

The Lotus Ford 76 had got the revised aerodynamics of the Mk72 and the brake discs of the front axle remained inside the bodywork. For the first time a double rear wing was used for better downforce. The Mk76 also had got a semi-automatic gearbox, the clutch pedal only was used for the start or leaving the pits. On the knob of the gearshift a button had been installed to activate the clutch the electronic-magnetic way, when touched with the right hand for changing gears. For the choice of left foot braking, four pedals were installed. On the right there was the gas pedal followed by two brake ones in the middle and on the left side there was the conventional clutch pedal.

After the first two rounds in Argentina and Brazil, the Lotus Ford 72D had been driven both by Ronnie Peterson and Jacky Ickx, bringing the Mk76 to it´s debut at the third round of the 1974 season, the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. This first outing was connected with a lot of troubles, making the drivers only qualify 10th (Ickx) and 16th (Peterson) on the grid to get both of them retired.

The next round, the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, looked a lot more promising. Peterson qualified 2nd, Ickx 5th, and both drivers were able to be in the lead temporarily. But it became clear very soon, that the Mk76 did not only have an aerodynamic problem, but also immense troubles with it´s reliabilty.

For this reason John Player Team Lotus decided to return to the Mk72 for the 6th round of the championship, the Grand Prix of Monaco, and they developed an E-version of it very quickly. Peterson won that round, Ickx scored the 8th place.

The same time Chapman and Bellamy produced a B-version of the Mk76. That had got a big, single rear wing, new long side pods reaching until the front axle with modified radiators for better weight balance and a flat nose section very similar to that of the 72. This revised models were used as the team´s spare cars from the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort on.

But it must be said, that both drivers were not very happy about the cars in general, and so they preferred driving their old 72Es, Peterson won two further Grand Prix, those of France and Italy, with. And so they took it only three further times out, giving Peterson a remarkable 4th place at the German Grand Prix at the very demanding Nuerburgring-Nordschleife. The last race of the Mk76 was the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen with Tim Schenken as the team´s temporary third driver, where the Australian was disqualified. Then John Player Team Lotus relied on the Mk72 for another season for 1975, it´s 6th overall.

J H

 

Model Designation: Lotus Ford 76 Year: 1976 Designers: Colin Chapman, Ralph Bellamy Chassis: Lotus aluminum monocoque Engine: Ford Cosworth 3.0 litre DFV V8 Gearbox: Lotus semi-automatic 5 speed Tyres: Goodyear Fuels and Oils: Duckhams Sponsor: John Player Special (cigarettes) Drivers: Ronnie Peterson/S, Jacky Ickx/B, Tim Schenken/AUS Best Result: 4th (Peterson, 1974 in Germany)

 

 

Lotus Ford 76 Gallery

 

 

Graphics: project * 2000

© 2001 by researchracing

 

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