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Lotus 81
2017 FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship, Circuit of the Americas (23970302968).jpg
CategoryFormula One
Successor86 / 87 / 88
Technical specifications
ChassisAluminium monocoque
Suspension (front)Double wishbones, coil springs over dampers, anti-roll bar
Suspension (rear)Double wishbones, coil springs over dampers, anti-roll bar
Length4,623 mm (182.0 in)
Width2,134 mm (84.0 in)
Height965 mm (38.0 in)
Axle trackFront: 1,700 mm (67 in)
Rear: 1,638 mm (64.5 in)
Wheelbase2,789 mm (109.8 in)
EngineFord Cosworth DFV, 2,993 cc (182.6 cu in), 90° V8, NA, mid-engine, longitudinally mounted
TransmissionHewland FGA 400 5-speed manual
Weight580 kg (1,280 lb)
TyresGoodyear (1980)
Michelin (1981)
Competition history
Notable entrantsTeam Essex Lotus
Notable driversUnited States Mario Andretti
Italy Elio de Angelis
United Kingdom Nigel Mansell
Debut1980 Argentine Grand Prix
Constructors' Championships0
Drivers' Championships0
n.b. Unless otherwise stated, all data refer to
Formula One World Championship Grands Prix only.

The Lotus 81 was a Formula One racing car built by Colin Chapman's Lotus team for the 1980 Formula One season. Unlike many of its illustrious Lotus forebears the 81 was not a terribly innovative or competitive car, coming as it did at a time when Chapman's interest in his racing activities was waning.[citation needed]

Instead it was a very standard ground effect design with sliding skirts and the ubiquitous Cosworth DFV 3.0 litre V8 powerplant. The car was said to generate a great deal of downforce but have excessive pitch sensitivity problems, ultimately leading Chapman to develop the innovative twin-chassis Lotus 88.

Mario Andretti and Elio de Angelis used the 81 in all 14 rounds of the 1980 Formula One world championship, and the car also gave Nigel Mansell his Formula One debut, with the British driver lining up in a total of three races that season. The best result for the car was Elio de Angelis's 2nd place in Brazil.

Chapman had intended to use the Lotus 88 for the 1981 season,[citation needed] but a massive furore over the legality of the new car meant that the 81 was kept on as a stop gap for the first four races Lotus competed in, as they boycotted the 1981 San Marino Grand Prix, with Mansell taking 3rd place in the Belgian Grand Prix and de Angelis claiming three points finishes. The car was replaced by the Lotus 87.

The Lotus 81 at Barber.
The Lotus 81 at Barber.
Lotus 81 engine and transmission
Lotus 81 engine and transmission

Complete Formula One results


Year Entrant Chassis Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Points WCC
1980 Team Essex Lotus 81 Ford Cosworth DFV G ARG BRA RSA USW BEL MON FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA CAN USA 14 5th
Mario Andretti Ret Ret 12 Ret Ret 7 Ret Ret 7 Ret 8 Ret Ret 6
Elio de Angelis Ret 2 Ret Ret 10 9 Ret Ret 16 6 Ret 4 10 4
81B Nigel Mansell Ret Ret DNQ
1981 Team Essex Lotus 81B Ford Cosworth DFV M USW BRA ARG SMR BEL MON ESP FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA CAN CPL 22* 7th
Nigel Mansell Ret 11 Ret 3
Elio de Angelis Ret 5 6 5

* Of those, 9 points were scored with the 81 model.

This page was last edited on 25 December 2018, at 18:02
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