1978 Lotus 79 John Player Special Mark IV news, pictures, and information
|Chassis Num: 0019|
Ronnie Peterson had raced in 123 Grand Prix races and was the winner of ten of those races.
Part of the ways to improve the vehicle's aerodynamics was to remove the outboard fuel tanks and the outboard rear suspension. F1 regulations stated that a capacity limit of 80 liters was allowed for each fuel tank. Chapman was able to get permission to merge the two fuel tanks together and mount the single unit behind the driver and in front of the engine. To make additional room, the driver was moved forward. The suspension was now inboard to remove any hindrance of obstructing air as it flowed through the car and to its exit points. Double-caliper disc brakes were inboard at the rear and outboard at the rear.
To continue the notion of improving air flow, the exhausts had an up-and-over design. The engine, fully enclosed, was the Cosworth DFV unit matted to a new Lotus transmission. The new gearbox was an improved sequential unit that was very compact and strong. The driver was no longer required to operate a clutch to change gears; rather, just let up on the throttle when making upward changes. The new gearbox was used for only a short time before the team revered back to Hewland units.
The Lotus Type 79 was tested thoroughly at the Paul Richard circuit near the close of 1977. It was fast but the massive amounts of g-forces, about 30% more down force created by the Type 78, introduced potential problems for the chassis. To solve these issues, the chassis was strengthen in specific points. To accommodate Peterson's larger frame and necessary knee room, the dash hoop and front panel were raised. Changes were made where necessary, including the suspension.
The car was introduced at the International Trophy at Silverstone where it was hailed by fans as the 'Black Beauty'. It was finished in black and gold livery and had sponsorship by John Player Special cigarettes. The Silverstone race had been dry during practice, but the race was met with torrential rain. As a result, many drivers crashed. The Lotus machines, though running very strong throughout the race, were forced to retire. Andretti later drove the 79 at the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder and easily won the race. The Lotus 79 machines were so superior to the other competition, that most of its loses occurred when it failed to finish.
The 79 was replaced by the Lotus 80 in 1979. Martini Racing replaced John Player Special as sponsor and the cars were adorned in British racing green. The Lotus 80 failed to live up to expectations and the team revered back to the 79 with Andretti and Carlos Reutemann as drivers. By now, the competition had caught up in terms of design and use of aerodynamics. The Type 79 was unable to compete as it had in seasons past. Lotus finished the season fourth in the constructors' championship and the car was officially retired.
The Lotus 79 had a very impressive racing history, accounting for the last drivers' and constructors' world championship for Lotus. The car had 7 wins and 10 pole positions and amassed 121 points.
The example shown is chassis number 19 and driven by Divina Galica.
By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2010
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Related Drivers Mario Gabriele Andretti
Jean-Pierre Jacques Jarier
Bengt Ronnie Peterson
Héctor Alonso Rebaque
Carlos Alberto Reutemann
Related Teams John Player Team Lotus
1978 Formula One Season
51 and 51A
Elite Type 14 Coupé
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