LOTUS FORD 79

Vienna journalist Helmut Zwickl had it called very cynically a Throw-Away Racing Car. That had to do with the fact, that the chassis of the Lotus Ford 79 was a very narrow monocoque with the fuel tank behind the cockpit. All other parts were no longer integrated in the chassis, but installed around it and for that reason, they could be taken away easily. For the first time ever, real wing profiles, also carrying the water radiators, were integrated into the side pods. Lateral skirts sliding on the track prevented the air flow from being damaged from air coming from outside. So the concept of the Lotus Ford was a nearly ideal one, making this car up to 2 seconds faster than all it´s rival models, because the speeds reached in the curves were enormous caused by the high downforce created by the lateral wings.

After a relatively small period of children´s deseases when testing in spring 1978, the Lotus Ford 79 became both competiive and reliable very soon. At it´s race debut, Mario Andretti won the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder ahead of his team mate Ronnie Peterson still in the old Mk78 model. So it was no wonder, that Andretti and Peterson came home 1st and 2nd in the 1978 drivers´championship making John Player Team Lotus also win the constructors´title the same year. The Lotus Ford 79 became the model for the 1979 Grand Prix car generation being nearly all of them carbon copies of the black and gold mashine. The chassis concept of the Mk79 is used in all single seater racing cars until today. Especially the central fuel tank, lying protected behind the cockpit, was essential for reducing the danger of fire in motorsport dramatically. So it had been a very sad experience to see Ronnie Peterson getting injured so seriously by a fire accident at the the 1978 Italian Grand Prix. After having damaged his personal Mk79, the Swede had to return into the old Mk78 with it´s lateral tanks catching fire after a mass collision shortly after the start. Peterson died on Monday after the race in a Milan hospital.

For 1979 Team Lotus switched from John Player Special to Martini sponsorship, bringing back the British Racing Green livery to the cars from Norfolk for more than a decade. But success did not com their way again. The Mk79 was too old, it´s successor Mk80 too revolutionary for defending the titles scored in the year before. The Lotus Ford 79 had created the generation of the Ground Effect Cars being unbelievable fast, a period being dominated by Ferrari, Renault, Brabham and Williams until the middle of the eighties.

J H

 

Model Designation: Lotus Ford 79 Years: 1978 & 1979 Chassis: Lotus aluminum monocoque Engine: Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 litre V8 Gearbox: Getrag or Hewland FGA 5 speed Tyres: Goodyear Oils: Valvoline Sponsors: John Player Special (Cigarettes), Olympus (Cameras) [1978], Martini (Arétifs), Essex (Oil Company) [1979], also Tissot (Watches) Designers: Colin Chapman, Peter Wright Works-Drivers: Mario Andretti (USA), Ronnie Peterson (S), Carlos Reutemann (RA), Jean Pierre Jarier (F) Private Driver: Hector Rebaque (MEX), Sponsors: Carta Blanca (Beer), Marlboro (Cigarettes) Grand Prix Wins: 7 (1978), Andretti 6, Peterson 1 Drivers´Worldchampiomship 1978: 1st Mario Andretti, 2nd Ronnie Peterson Constructors Worldchampionship 1978: 1st Team Lotus

 

... more about the Lotus Ford

 

 

 

Galleria Lotus Ford 79 [1]

Galleria Lotus Ford 79 [2]

 

 

 

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