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Lotus 77

Lotus 77

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The Lotus 77 was a Formula One
Formula One
Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or F1 and referred to officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship, is the highest class of single seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile . The "formula" designation in the name refers to a set of rules with which...

 racing car designed by Colin Chapman
Colin Chapman
Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman CBE was an influential British designer, inventor, and builder in the automotive industry, and founder of Lotus Cars....

, Geoff Aldridge and Martin Ogilvie for the 1976 Formula One season
1976 Formula One season
The 1976 Formula One season included the 27th FIA Formula One World Championship season, which commenced on January 25, 1976, and ended on October 24 after sixteen races...

. The car was a stop-gap means to an end for Lotus, who were fighting back after the failure of the Lotus 76
Lotus 76
The Lotus 76 was a Formula One car designed by Colin Chapman, Tony Rudd and Ralph Bellamy for the 1974 Formula One season. The car was intended to be a more advanced version of the Lotus 72, powered by the Ford Cosworth DFV and featuring modified aerodynamics, a lighter chassis, longer wheelbase...

 and the obsolescence of the Lotus 72
Lotus 72
The Lotus 72 was a Formula One car designed by Colin Chapman and Maurice Philippe of Lotus for the 1970 Formula One season.- Development :The 72 was yet another innovative design by Chapman featuring inboard brakes, side mounted radiators in sidepods, as opposed to the nose mounted radiators which...

 in 1975.

The Lotus 77 featured a slimmer, lighter monocoque design over the 72, but was similarly powered by the Cosworth DFV
Cosworth DFV
The DFV is an internal combustion engine that was originally produced by Cosworth for Formula One motor racing. Named Four Valve because of the four valves per cylinder, and Double as it was a V8 development of the earlier, four-cylinder FVA , making it a Double Four Valve engine...

. It featured improved aerodynamics and repositioned radiators to aid better cooling. The front brakes were initially inboard, in line with its predecessors, but were moved outboard in a more conventional design part-way through the season. The suspension was designed around a series of rocker arms instead of the usual set up of wishbones. The idea behind the new system was to set the suspension up for a specific track, taking into account ride height and road surface, and the 77 was dubbed 'The Adjustacar' as a result. It worked in a fashion, but inexperience with such an infinitely adjustable car meant that optimum settings were often not achieved. Drivers Mario Andretti
Mario Andretti
Mario Gabriele Andretti is a retired Italian American world champion racing driver, one of the most successful Americans in the history of the sport. He is one of only two drivers to win races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR...

 and Gunnar Nilsson
Gunnar Nilsson
Gunnar Nilsson was a Swedish racing driver, born in Helsingborg. Before entering Formula One, he won the 1975 British Formula Three Championship....

 reported the steering and ride were occasionally vague and unresponsive. Andretti did not care for the car, proclaiming it to be a 'dog.' This motivated Lotus to accelerate research and create the stunning Lotus 78
Lotus 78
The Lotus 78 'wing car' was a Formula One racing car used in the and seasons. It was designed by Peter Wright, Colin Chapman, Martin Ogilvie and Tony Rudd, and was the car that started the ground effect revolution in Formula One.-Concept:...

After a slow start to the season, the 77 proved to be best of the rest behind Ferrari
Scuderia Ferrari
Scuderia Ferrari is the racing team division of the Ferrari automobile marque. The team currently only races in Formula One but has competed in numerous classes of motorsport since its formation in 1929, including sportscar racing....

, McLaren and Tyrrell
Tyrrell Racing
The Tyrrell Racing Organisation was an auto racing team and Formula One constructor founded by Ken Tyrrell which started racing in 1958 and started building its own cars in 1970. The team experienced its greatest success in the early 1970s, when it won three drivers' championships and one...

. Andretti worked hard to develop the car, and from mid season onwards, the 77's performance picked up. It was however best suited to tracks with long corners such as Anderstorp
Scandinavian Raceway
The Scandinavian Raceway is a race circuit in Anderstorp , Sweden.The track was built on marshlands in 1968 and became an extremely popular venue in the 1970s, just as Swede Ronnie Peterson was at the height of his career...

, where Andretti led easily before engine failure put him out. At Zandvoort
Circuit Park Zandvoort
Circuit Park Zandvoort is a motorsport race track located in Burgemeester van Alphenstraat 108, 2041 KP in the dunes north of the town of Zandvoort, in the Netherlands, near the North Sea coast line.- History :...

 and Mosport Park tracks he finished on the podium.

Colin Chapman vetoed Andretti's request to race the Lotus 78
Lotus 78
The Lotus 78 'wing car' was a Formula One racing car used in the and seasons. It was designed by Peter Wright, Colin Chapman, Martin Ogilvie and Tony Rudd, and was the car that started the ground effect revolution in Formula One.-Concept:...

 at Zandvoort, so Mario reluctantly raced the 77 until the end of the season. The final race was run in monsoon conditions at Fuji Speedway
Fuji Speedway
is a race track standing in the foothills of Mount Fuji, in Oyama, Suntō District, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. It was built in the early 1960s and hosted the first Formula One race in Japan in 1976. In the 1980s, Fuji Speedway was used for the FIA World Sportscar Championship and national racing...

 in Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. Andretti drove a clever tactical race to win by a lap from Patrick Depailler
Patrick Depailler
Patrick André Eugène Joseph Depailler was a racing driver from France. He participated in 95 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 2 July 1972. He also participated in several non-Championship Formula One races.Depailler was born in Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dôme. As a child, he...

 and new world champion James Hunt
James Hunt
James Simon Wallis Hunt was a British racing driver from England who won the Formula One World Championship in . Hunt's often action packed exploits on track earned him the nickname "Hunt the Shunt." After retiring from driving, Hunt became a media commentator and businessman...

. Andretti was glad to put the 77 aside to concentrate on developing the 78 for the 1977 Formula One season
1977 Formula One season
The 1977 Formula One season included the 28th FIA Formula One World Championship season, which commenced on January 9, 1977, and ended on October 23 after seventeen races.-Season summary:...