|Lotus 102 Lamborghini|
All things considering and despite the few points scored, Lotus did not have a very bad season in 1989. The team started the year well up against it after losing the supply of a works engine and having to settle for a 1988 specification Judd V8. They scored more points than all other Judd-supplied teams combined but for Lotus standards those 15 points were not enough.
As evident by the performance in the wet, the design of the 1989 Lotus 101 was sound and what was really needed was more power. As was the case the previous year, most of the works developed engines were not readily available. The one that was, was Lamborghini's V12, which had made its debut in 1989. Designed by former Ferrari engineer Mauro Forghieri with backing from parent-company Chrysler, the 'Tipo 3512' certainly had potential.
Developed to meet Formula 1's latest requirements, the Lamborghini 3512 featured a somewhat unusual 80º cylinder angle. This meant the engine was not quite as tall as conventional V12s and not as wide as V8s. It was constructed from light alloys and incorporated twin overhead camshaft heads complete with four valves per cylinder. In its first year, the Lamborghini V12 produced around 625 bhp, which was increased to 640 at a startling 13,000 rpm for 1990.
Mated to a transverse gearbox with Lamborghini gears and a Lotus casing, the V12 was bolted to the new Lotus Type 102 chassis. Although it was a development of the Frank Dernie designed Type 101, the Lotus engineers spent 150,000 hours refining the design. Much time was spent in the wind-tunnel to find the optimum balance between drag and downforce that had once again become very important again now that power was at a premium with the return to naturally aspirated engines.
Sporting a carbon-fibre monocoque and double wishbone suspension at all four corners, the Type 102's basic layout was very conventional. At the front pull-rods actuated the coil springs and dampers, while the rear end used push-rods. In addition to the focus on aerodynamic efficiency, much time was also spent in making every component as light as possible due to the additional weight of the Lamborghini V12 engine.
Lined up to drive the Lotus 102 Lamborghini were Derek Warwick and Martin Donnelly, who replaced Nelson Piquet and Satoru Nakajima. Donnelly's role as test and reserve driver was filled by Johnny Herbert. Despite the poor results of the previous season, R.J. Reynolds extended their sponsorship, so the Lotus would once again be liveried in Camel colours. At the start of the season, the team felt confident it was back on top and the team manager believed at least 40 points could be scored.
Lotus' optimism was short lived as the Lamborghini engined Lotus proved to be both too slow and too unreliable to be a real contender. With a sixth in Canada and a fifth at Hungary, Warwick was responsible for all three points scored by the team. Donnelly saw a difficult season come to a tragic conclusion at Jerez where he suffered a career ending accident in practice. Herbert drove the final two races in his place but failed to finish on both occassions.
Unfortunately Lotus had hit a downward spiral that it would eventually fail to break free from. In 1991 an updated Type 102B was raced, which used a Judd engine but again only three points were scored. Lamborghini would continue its Formula 1 program, and at one point the V12 was even considered by McLaren. In the end it would not yield the results Lamborghini and Chrysler had hoped for and the program was axed at the end of 1993.
Article by Wouter Melissen, last updated on July 29, 2011
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