Lotus have marked thirty-five years since Ayrton Senna‘s maiden Formula 1 victory at the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix with a release of new photos and podcasts taking a look back at the race weekend.
Lotus, who took Senna to his first of forty-one wins, six of which that he won at Lotus, have released rare images celebrating his time at the team; Also a podcast with his engineer at Lotus, Chris Dinnage. As they focused on the race at Estoril circuit, which saw pouring rain.
Senna was driving the Lotus 97T on the 21 April where he took the win, the team described how Senna drove on the day saying “he delivered a masterclass in wet-weather driving”
Dinnage explains the emotions with Lotus
Dinnage spoke on what it was like at the time, during the weekend as Senna took on his second race for the iconic British team, “Ayrton hadn’t tested the car in the wet – that was the first time he’d driven inthose conditions. Estoril was when he really hit the scene, because people sat up andthought ‘hang on, he’s lapped almost everybody’ and we knew we had something pretty special.”
“Ayrton had the same raw pace as everyone else, but he was only using 50% ofhis capacity as a human to drive the car at full speed, leaving him the other 50% to be reallyaware of everything that was going on around him. His concentration levels wereunparalleled – I’ve never met anyone else like him.“
First of Many For Senna
That weekend also saw Senna take his first of sixty five pole positions in Formula 1, which only the likes of Micheal Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton have bettered.
The weather conditions set Senna up to be known for his driving in the rain, as he led a Lotus one-two during the race, which ended with only nine cars classified due to the nature of the wet race.
“It was a hard, tactical race, corner by corner, lap by lap, because conditions were changing all the time. The car was sliding everywhere – it was very hard to keep the car under control.
“Once I had all four wheels on the grass, totally out of control, but the car came back on the circuit. People later said that my win in the wet at Donington in ’93 was my greatest performance – no way! I had traction control!”
Racing in the Lotus 97T
Lotus touched upon the car itself revealing the evolution which were made with the car as they explained that the Lotus 97T, was the first car which included bargeboards, which were placed between the sidepods and the front wheels of the car to disrupt the airflow.
The car like many of the iconic cars created by the likes of team founder Colin Chapman, can now be found at Lotus’ base in Norfolk.
Clive Chapman, the managing director of Classic Team Lotus, and son of the founder Colin Chapman, explained how Senna had an impacted on the team and the cars which were produced.
“For Team Lotus, Ayrton joining was a vital piece in the jigsaw, as the team faced the challenge of F1 without my father. Ayrton’s technical abilities, driving skills, hard work and motivational powers all proved to be more vital ingredients to the Team Lotus mix, which led to success almost immediately.”