As ever, Classic Team Lotus is lending its full support to the Lotus Festival, this year mounting a colourful four-car display depicting the most significant liveries in which Team Lotus raced in period. Brands Hatch this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first British Grand Prix to be staged at the Kentish circuit, and that race in 1964 was won by Jim Clark’s evocative green-with-yellow-stripe Lotus Type 25.
The green & yellow livery will be represented by the one and only 1965 Lotus 32B with which Clark won the 1965 Tasman Series, making the long trip down-under worthwhile by winning nine of the thirteen races. The 32B was a development of the Type 32 Formula 2 car and was something of a cross-over in terms of technology. Whilst the front half featured an aluminium cockpit as pioneered in the 1963 World Championship-winning Type 25, the 2.5-litre Coventry Climax FPF was mounted in a traditional tubular spaceframe.
To prove there was no sentiment in those days, despite the impressive results scored by the unique 32B, it was sold-off to a New Zealander rather than incur the costs of shipping it back to Blighty. As was so often the way, it was progressively modified before coming into the hands of Australian Lotus collector, the late John Dawson-Damer. Now restored to its former glory, it is in the care of Classic Team Lotus.
Green gave-way to red, white and gold in 1968 when Team Lotus brought commercial sponsorship into Formula One for the first time by attracting backing from John Player’s Gold Leaf cigarette brand. Despite the culture shock fans quickly warmed to the new era and the colour scheme became a firm favourite. It was not confined to F1 either; after debuting on the Type 48 Formula 2 car the sponsorship also embraced Lotus’ efforts in Formula 3 and GT racing.
The livery is represented here on 49B/R10, Graham Hill’s World Championship-winning car. In 1969 Jochen Rindt used 49B/R10 to good effect, winning at Warwick Farm, followed by a second-place finish at Sandown Park. The car was then shipped back to Europe to see service as Team’s spare chassis for the season, but Graham Hill, used it to good effect to win the Monaco Grand Prix, his regular car having been damaged in Barcelona.
Incidentally, Hill had also won the Monegasque race the previous year in the same car, albeit in earlier R5 form. By a quirk of fate, he would also drive it at Monaco in 1970. Having switched to Rob Walker’s privateer team, he badly damaged his regular car in practice, so was loaned R10 – now in 49C spec. – for the race, whereupon he finished fifth. Later that year R10 became the last-ever Team Lotus 49 to start in a Grand Prix, when Emerson Fittipaldi drove it to 15th place in Austria.
In 1972 Player’s decided to promote their John Player Special brand rather than Gold Leaf, leading to one of the most famous race car liveries of all time – black with gold pin-striping. Team Lotus further enhanced the appearance by applying the scheme to all the other sponsor stickers on the car. The colours are shown to good effect here on ‘Black Beauty’, one of the all-conquering Lotus 79’s used by Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson to dominate the 1978 season. Between them they won eight races that season and Andretti ran out World Champion with Peterson runner-up, whilst Team Lotus comfortably beat Ferrari to the Constructors’ Championship. Tragically Ronnie died following an accident at the start of the Italian Grand Prix.
Classic Team Lotus now has two 79’s in its care and at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed played out a slightly tongue-in-cheek tribute to the claim made by many back in the day that Ronnie was obligated to give second-best to Mario. With current drivers Dan Collins and Andrew Beaumont wearing replica Mario and Ronnie helmets, ‘Ronnie’ led away from the start line but then rather ostentatiously waved’ Mario’[ by as they passed in front of Goodwood House!
John Player & Co. bowed-out from Team Lotus sponsorship at the end of the 1978 season, only to return in 1981 for a few more seasons, Team Lotus having enjoyed alliances with Martini and Essex Petroleum in the meantime. However, with JPS having gone for good (or perhaps not, according to some rumours currently circulating…) for the 1987 season Lotus turned to rival tobacco manufacturers R.J. Reynolds and the Type 99T, as displayed here at Brands Hatch, duly debuted in the eye-catching yellow colours of the ‘Camel’ brand. Drivers were Ayrton Senna and Satoru Nakajima.
The 1987 season was dominated by the Williams duo of Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell, but Senna finished the season behind them in third place overall after winning the Monaco and USA-East GP’s. Likewise Team Lotus secured third place in the Constructor’s title chase behind Williams and McLaren. That season proved to be the best of the four run in Camel colours.
Team Lotus has always been renowned for bringing innovation to Formula 1 and the enduring popularity and recognition of the sponsorship liveries deployed over the years is proof that that ingenuity was not just limited to technical genius!