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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1961
Numbers built:11
Internal name:Type 21
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:March 15, 2019
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAll of the British Grand Prix teams and engine manufacturers were left unprepared for the rule changes ahead of the 1961 season, which stipulated a displacement limit reduction from 2,500 to 1,500 cc. The new regulations had been widely discussed but the Brits had long held a firm believe that they would be postponed or not introduced at all.

For Team Lotus, this meant that no purpose-built engine was available at the start of 1961. To bridge the period until the proposed all-new Coventry Climax V8 was ready to race, Colin Chapman's company decided to field an interim car, powered by a 1.5-litre version of the familiar Coventry Climax FPF engine.

Dubbed the Type 21, the new interim F1 car was derived from the Type 20 Formula Junior car. The spaceframe chassis was carried over but with reinforcements for the additional loads endured in Grand Prix racing. A key change compared to earlier Lotus Grand Prix cars was the use of a custom ZF gearbox in place of the troublesome Lotus 'queerbox'.

The Type 21 was ready in time for the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix, where Jim Clark was fastest in practice. In addition to the brand new works cars, Lotus customers also fielded earlier Type 18s fitted with 1.5-litre engines. It was one of these cars, entered by Rob Walker and driven by Stirling Moss that won the Monaco Grand Prix. Later in the year, updated hybrid Type 18/21s were also raced.

The only Grand Prix victory for the Type 21 came late in the year when Innes Ireland won the American Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. There was more success during the off season races in South Africa. Trevor Taylor won the Cape Grand Prix, while a young Jim Clark claimed victories in the Rand, Natal and South African Grands Prix.

In total, Lotus built 11 examples of the Type 21 before it was replaced by the V8-engined Type 24 and the revolutionary monocoque chassis Type 25 ahead of the 1962 season. For an interim car, the Type 21 was very successful and in the 1961 World Championship standings Team Lotus was beaten only by Ferrari, who had a purpose-built 1.5-litre ready at the start of the season.

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  Article Image gallery (35) Chassis (4) Specifications