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F1 Ð AND THE MAGIC NUMBER IS 4

  Four races, four different winning drivers and cars, four different championship leaders, four different drivers and cars finishing second, four fourths in a row for Mark Webber and about four gazillion races since two Lotus’s finished on the podium in a Grand Prix. It may not seem like it just yet but are the stars aligning behind the Hoon in car 4? For the record, Sebastian Vettel left Bahrain as the fourth different winner and championship leader although he damned near didn’t. Kimi Raikkonen came within inches of pinching that victory in his John Playe…..errr….sorry, Lotus.

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  The Red Rags seem finally to have come to terms with their underperforming steed in qualifying, out-doing McLaren and Mercedes for the first time this year. Seb grabbed pole by just under a tenth from the Hoon with Webber another tenth back in third. Button was fourth with Chinese pole-man Rosberg next up, just beating out the surprising Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso. Just over half a second covered this top six in qualifying. Neither of the Lotus’s gave any indication of the pace that was to come while the Ferraris where, as usual, crap. Astonishingly, considering the one lap pace of the Mercedes so far, one M.Schumacher didn’t even get out of Q3, being knocked out by Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotu….err…sorry, Caterham.

   The first three got away reasonably well and held position while the second three had shockers. Button only lost a couple of spots to Grosjean and King Fernando, who has just about become this generation’s Gilles Villeneuve when it comes to demon starts, while Rosberg dropped to ninth on the first lap and had to henceforth take on the role of bar-room brawler in his slow climb back to fifth at the flag. To say that neither the Hoon nor King Fernando were overly impressed with Nico’s defensive tactics or the thought processes of the stewards is putting it mildly. One can only say that Nico seems to have learnt from his team-mate and seems to be being punished in just the same manner. Perhaps they thought it was Michael…..

   Young Dan buggered it up totally from his superb grid slot and after having his snout damaged ended the first lap down in sixteenth place and from there he would not recover. Still, he’s young and will learn how not to hit other cars on the opening lap. And when he does, good things will follow. Now speaking of good things, the Lotus in race trim certainly seems to fit the bill. Starting seventh (Grosjean) and eleventh (Kimi) they were fourth and seventh after the first lap and had both overtaken Webber and the Hoon and risen to second when they pitted. As the field settled down from the first series of tyre stops the Lotus twins emerged comfortably in second and third and were never pressured for the podium again. Indeed as the race progressed it became clear that they were the fastest things out there and Kimi steadily hauled in the Red Rag of Vettel. Kimi had one go at the lead, which was strongly defended, before he very slowly dropped back, having used the best of his tyres. Romain Grosjean in the other Lotus backed up his first points finish of a week ago with his first podium which included his first lap in the lead of a Grand Prix. 

  All in all a fine weekend for Lotus. It has been thirty three years since two Lotus’s were on a Grand Prix podium and whether or not you think the current Lotus has anything at all to do with Colin Chapman’s squad, it was still nice to see. Back then, at Jarama for the 1979 Spanish Grand Prix, Carlos Reutemann and Mario Andretti finished on the lower steps behind race winner Patrick Depailler in the erratically super-fast Ligier JS11. Carlos was still running the previous years 79 while Mario was giving the Lotus 80 it’s debut. The 79, which had dominated in 1978 was no longer a real front-runner and the 80 was supposed to take ground effects to a whole new level. Initially designed with no wings at all, the 80 was one big inverted wing with sliding skirts being used along the sides of the nose-cone as well as from the front of the side pods all the way to the very rear of the car. By the time the car arrived at Jarama it had sprouted wings and its podium scoring debut was promising.

 

 

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    The Lotus 80 was not to bother the scorers again though as several problems could not be overcome. The sliding skirts that were curved so that they were inboard of the rear wheels continually got stuck causing loss of down-force and when they were working, the chassis was not stiff enough to cope with the down-force generated and would flex. Not what you want in a Grand Prix car. The 80 only appeared in two further races, at Monaco and Dijon while being Mario’s spare car at Zolder and Silverstone before being cast aside for the aging 79. There arern’t many cars that spring to mind that have had such a promising debut, followed by such a short and unsuccessful racing life. In its Martini and Essex colours though, the Lotus 80 did give us one of the most striking, and I think, beautiful liveries seen, even to this day.

   Pity today’s cars are SO BLOODY UGLY!!! 

Sam Snape 

25/04/2012 

For full results go to; 

http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=148&dir=ASC&order=name&limit=5&limitstart=5