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Mario Andretti, Lotus 78 Ford
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Special feature

Now that was a car! The Lotus 78

This revolutionary Lotus was the first competitive ground-effect F1 car. F1 Racing looks back...

Words: Stewart Williams 

Lotus had dominated great swathes of the 1960s and early ’70s with some impressive machinery: the Type 25, the 33, the beautiful 49 and finally the 72. But by 1976 the performance of their 77 was causing Lotus founder Colin Chapman concern. A new car was required and Chapman was adamant that the Lotus 78 would be a completely different machine.

Chapman had studied the radiators on the wings of a Mosquito fighter plane and found that the hot-air outlets produced lift. He deduced that if this was inverted on an F1 car, it would boost downforce. He handed the project over to head of engineering Tony Rudd, who put together a team that included chief designer Ralph Bellamy, vehicle engineer Martin Ogilvie and aerodynamicist Peter Wright.

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Edition

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