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Lotus Type 88

Lotus Type 88

period: 1981

engine: Ford Cosworth DFV V8 2993 cc / 500 bhp

# made: 2

Technical specifications:

Chassis Twin-chassis construction
Suspension (front) Top rocker arms, lower wishbones, inboard springs
Suspension (rear) Top rocker arms, lower wishbones, inboard springs
Axle track front 1778 mm (70.0 in)
Axle track rear 1600 mm (63 in)
Wheelbase 2178 mm (85.7 in)
Transmission Lotus/Hewland 5-speed manual
Weight 585 kg
Tyres Michelin/Goodyear

Carbonfibre/kevlar composite side panels, 3 steel cross members; 2nd chassis aluminium monocoque

Formula I. An improved version of the Type 86 dual chassis car. Eventually was banned.

The Lotus 88 was an innovative ground effect Formula One car designed by Colin Chapman, Peter Wright, Tony Rudd and Martin Ogilvie of Lotus in an effort to maximise the downforce produced by ground effects cars.

The 88 used an ingenious system of having a twin chassis, one inside the other. The inner chassis would hold the cockpit and would be independently sprung from the outer one, which was designed to take the pressures of the ground effects. The outer chassis did not have discernible wings, and was in effect one huge ground effect system, beginning just behind the nose of the car and extending all the way inside the rear wheels, thereby producing massive amounts of downforce. The car was powered by the Ford Cosworth DFV engine. Lotus drivers Nigel Mansell and Elio de Angelis reported the car was pleasing to drive and responsive. To make the aerodynamic loads as manageable as possible, the car was constructed extensively in carbon fibre, making it along with the McLaren MP4/1 the first car to use the material in large quantity.

Other teams were outraged at this exploitation of the regulations and protests were lodged with the FIA, on the grounds that the twin chassis tub breached the rules in terms of moveable aerodynamic devices. The FIA upheld the protests and consequently banned the car from competing. Chapman was adamant the car was legal and challenged the other teams and the FIA at every turn, but the decision stood. It got to the point where if the Lotus 88 was entered in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the team would lose its championship points. Chapman was forced to update two of his Lotus 87 chassis as replacements for his thwarted brainchild. The Lotus 88 therefore remains a curiosity from a bygone age of F1. Some of the 88's aerodynamics and layout were worked into the successful Lotus 91 which followed in 1982.