Formula 1 Machinery: Lotus 49
The Lotus 49, with its iconic red and gold livery, lit up the Live Action Arena at the 2014 Autosport International Show in a special demo that also included the iconic 79 Team Lotus car from 1978.
It was designed by Colin Chapman and Maurice Philippe and raced in the 1967 F1 season. It was an advanced design and was used by the team for four years, although they ran with three different versions.
The 49 proved to be a hugely successful machine that was driven by some of the greatest talents in Formula 1. It had an advanced chassis configuration that meant the specially-designed Ford Cosworth DFV engine – which powered most of the F1 grid in the 1970s – became a stress-bearing structural member.
The 3.0 litre V8 engine produced 415bhp and was bolted to the monocoque at one end and the gearbox and suspension at the other, a set-up that continues to this day. The 49B was one of the first cars to trial the aerofoil wings which debuted part-way through 1968. They were eventually banned following several big crashes caused by failures, which prompted the team to then mount the wings on the bodywork itself.
A number of iconic drivers from the world of motorsport have raced at the wheel of the 49. Jim Clark and Graham Hill raced for the team in 1967 before the former unfortunately died in a Formula 2 crash in 1968. He was replaced by Jackie Oliver.
Hill remained for 1969 and he was joined by Jochen Rindt. During that time, Mario Andretti also completed a handful of races for them before becoming a major part of the team in the 70s.
Clark took victory on the cars debut at the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort and took three further victories during that year, but reliability issues halted his title challenge. It also cost Lotus the constructors’ title. Hill also suffered a number of mechanical problems, but the team had high hopes for 1968 with the upgraded 49B.
The season opener was won by Clark but he tragically lost his life in a Formula 2 race a few months later. Hill moved up to the team leader role and won his second title, as well as helping the team to the constructors’ crown in what was a difficult year.
The following campaign wasn’t so successful. Hill stood on the top step of the podium just once, as did new driver Jochen Rindt – his first F1 win. The car was originally meant to be replaced by the Lotus 63 but the car was a complete failure and a modified 49, the 49C, was brought in. It was then replaced by the 72 mid-way through 1970.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic
Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his debut in the F1 paddock for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle and RumbleStripNews, as well as running a popular blog.