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Lotus 97T
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Special feature

How Senna’s first F1 winner gave Lotus life after Chapman

Designed by Gerard Ducarouge, the 97T returned Lotus to the winners circle for the first time since the death of its founder but also, as STUART CODLING reveals, gave the team a problem holding onto its new star

Colin Chapman’s death in 1982 ought to have been the end of Lotus. Not just a visionary engineer in his own right, Chapman was Lotus’s wheeler-dealer and a pusher, chivvier and charmer who could extract brilliance from his design team. He defined the organisation in all its magnificent but often fragile glory.

Not for nothing did former Lotus sales director Graham Arnold describe Chapman as “an incredible bloke who could do anything better than the next man. If he’d been in charge of the Royal Shakespeare Company, within a year he’d have produced the definitive Macbeth, the most controversial Macbeth or even the most controversially definitive Macbeth…”

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