With its iconic John Player Special livery, unrivalled power and the legendary Ayrton Senna in the driving seat, the Lotus 98T was one of the most iconic Formula One cars of what was arguably a golden era of the sport.
Now, 30 years on from the car’s final competitive outing at the 1986 Australian Grand Prix, a new manual from publisher Haynes gives racing fans an unprecedented look at the history of the Lotus-Renault F1 cars from 1983 to 1986. The manual also includes information on the cars’ design, operation and drivers – as well as ‘getting under the skin’ of the very last 98T to be built, through stunning exclusive photography taken during a recent full overhaul.
The Haynes Lotus 98T Owners’ Workshop Manual provides a comprehensive insight into the anatomy of the type with unique access to the cars today, along with archive material from the team’s heyday from the Classic Team Lotus Archive. It also takes a detailed look at the elements that combined to produce the power and speed that made the car famous.
The manual explores the Lotus team’s focus on engine power and aerodynamics which, although later surpassed by other teams, was ahead of its time. Furthermore, the manual explains how relatively unrestricted regulation allowed teams to explore early under-car aerodynamics, allowing cars to transfer more than 1,000 horsepower to the track.
A dedicated chapter focuses on the man whose task it was to tame the raw power of the car – the incomparable Ayton Senna. A sensational rising star at the time he signed for Lotus, Senna achieved eight pole positions in the 1986 season, winning two races, although ultimately finishing fourth in the overall Drivers’ World Championship.
With unique photography throughout from contemporary photographer John Townsend, much of whose work remained unpublished until now, Senna’s journey is depicted throughout his time at Lotus, including the historic moment his Lotus contract was agreed.
First-hand accounts from former drivers and engineers provide readers with their fascinating insights on what made the car so successful, and what it was like to drive.
The manual is authored by racing journalist of 30 years Stephen Slater who, in writing the book, was given exclusive access to the Lotus during its restoration where it was photographed as it’s never been seen before.
Stephen said: “In my years as both an F1 fan and a commentator, I’ve not witnessed any car that had the combination of raw power, charisma and speed that the Lotus 98T offered.
“Such was the car’s qualifying performance that many within the sport at the time questioned its legitimacy. The manual contains an image of the very press release issued by Lotus at this time, which called for the rumours and speculation to stop, or for there to be an official protest. It is safe to say now that the car’s performance was purely thanks to a blend of massive aerodynamic downforce, the raw power of the Renault EF15 engine, and Senna’s brilliance.”
On the car’s legacy, Stephen said: “The Lotus team of the mid-1980s undoubtedly shaped the future course of the sport. Although other teams became far more sophisticated and started to take many more testing facilities such as wind tunnels in-house, Lotus were pioneers in car aerodynamics. The team was also one of the earliest adopters of carbon fibre construction which not only made the cars more lightweight, but also much safer.”
About the author
Stephen Slater has spent over 30 years as a motor racing journalist, public relations professional and television presenter. For more than a decade he was 'the voice of Formula One' across Asia and the Far East as the main English-language commentator for ESPN Star Sports, while his passion for engineering and heritage encompasses vintage cars, aeroplanes and historic racing cars.
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