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Lotus 98T

Lotus 98T
Category Formula One
Constructor Lotus
Designer(s) Gérard Ducarouge
Martin Ogilvie
Predecessor 97T
Successor 99T
Technical specifications[1]
Chassis Carbon fibre and Kevlar Aluminium honeycomb monocoque
Suspension (front) Double wishbones, pull-rod actuated coil springs over dampers, anti-roll bar
Suspension (rear) Double wishbones, pull-rod actuated coil springs over dampers, anti-roll bar
Axle track Front: 1,816 mm (71.5 in)
Rear: 1,620 mm (64 in)
Wheelbase 2,720 mm (107 in)
Engine Renault Gordini EF15B, 1,492 cc (91.0 cu in), 90° V6, turbo, mid-engine, longitudinally mounted
Transmission Lotus / Hewland 6-speed manual
Weight 540 kg (1,190 lb)
Fuel Elf
Tyres Goodyear
Competition history
Notable entrants John Player Team Lotus
Notable drivers 11. Johnny Dumfries
12. Ayrton Senna
Debut 1986 Brazilian Grand Prix
Races Wins Poles F.Laps
16 2 8 0
Constructors' Championships 0
Drivers' Championships 0

The Lotus 98T was a development of the Lotus 97T of 1985. Of the four chassis built three were assigned to Ayrton Senna, now in his second year with Team Lotus, and one to team mate Johnny Dumfries.

Designed by Gérard Ducarouge and Martin Ogilvie the chassis featured a lower monocoque than the 97T as a result of a regulation change stipulating a reduction in fuel capacity to 195 litres. The powertrain consisted of the new Renault EF15B turbo V6 engine driving through a six speed Hewland gearbox.

The EF15B was to appear in two forms, the standard engine and the "D.P." engine which featured pneumatic valve springs for the first time. At the end of the season Renault introduced the revised EF15C which in addition to the D.P. valve gear also boasted common rail fuel injection and much revised water cooling through the cylinder head reducing the likelihood of pre-ignition (detonation). Power figures for this period of F1 history are largely speculative as most engine manufactures freely admitted that their test beds would not have a sufficient power rating to measure the 1.5 litre turbos output at above 4 bar boost. It is generally accepted that the Renault EF15 produced between 1,200 bhp (890 kW) and 1,300 bhp (970 kW) at 5.5 bar boost.

The gearbox came in two variants, a conventional five speed and a new six speed. The six speed was very much a development gearbox and was largely unreliable. While Senna opted to run only with the five speed, Dumfries was tasked with testing the six speed. Both gearboxes featured Hewland internals within a Lotus designed casing.

Other notable innovations of the 98T included a two-stage ride height adjustment, water injection through the intercoolers, an early form of barge board (also present on the 97T) and an advanced (for the time) fuel consumption micro computer.

During the 1986 Formula One season, the Formula One paddock was very much alive with speculation as to the legality of the Lotus 98T. The increasing rumours prompted Lotus team manager Peter Warr to issue a press statement after qualifying for the German Grand Prix, calling for the rumours to stop or for the teams to officially protest the car. While the rumours died down, they did persist, although no protest was ever lodged.

Driver controversy

At the end of 1985, long time Lotus driver Elio de Angelis had departed for the Brabham team. This left a seat open at Lotus and the team intended to sign Derek Warwick, without a drive after the factory Renault team pulled out of racing, as his replacement. However, Ayrton Senna, not believing that the team could sustain two #1 drivers and not wanting the focus of the team to be on anything but himself, used his position as the team's lead driver to put pressure on Lotus not to sign Warwick, allegedly even threatening to follow de Angelis to Brabham if they did sign the Englishman (though that couldn't happen as Riccardo Patrese, a favourite of Brabham boss Bernie Ecclestone, was already confirmed as de Angelis' new team mate). Lotus management however took Senna's threat seriously and decided not to sign Warwick. Senna then pushed to have his former flatmate and countryman Maurício Gugelmin join the team as the #2, but this time didn't get his own way. Team sponsor JPS reportedly wanted a British driver, so Lotus hired Dumfries instead.

Gugelmin would not make his F1 debut until he joined the March team in 1988, while Warwick, who was forced into sportscar racing in 1986 after being left without a drive, would ultimately replace de Angelis at Brabham after the Italian's death in a testing accident at the Paul Ricard Circuit in May.

The 98T was the last Lotus to carry the famous Black & Gold colours of long-time team sponsor John Player Special (JPS). As Renault were pulling out of F1 after the 1986 season, Lotus signed a deal with Japanese giant Honda to supply their engines in both 1987 and 1988. Part of the Honda deal was the team agreeing to sign their official test driver Satoru Nakajima as Senna's team mate. JPS, who wanted a British driver in the team, pulled its sponsorship and in 1987 Lotus would carry the Gold & Blue colours of another cigarette brand, Camel.

Complete Formula One results

() (results in bold indicate pole position)
Year Entrant Engine Tyres Driver 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Pts. WCC
1986 John Player Team Lotus Renault Gordini EF15B
V6 tc
Ayrton Senna 2 1 Ret 3 2 5 1 Ret Ret 2 2 Ret Ret 4 3 Ret
Johnny Dumfries 9 Ret Ret DNQ Ret Ret 7 Ret 7 Ret 5 Ret Ret 9 Ret 6


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