Video: Designing the 1983 Lotus 93T
Cream-coloured shirts, check. Ties with fantastical patterns, check. Subtly flared trousers, check. Huge glasses, check. Cue cheesy synthesizer music and there we go, a documentary from the early 1980s (see below). A documentary on the production of the 1983 Lotus 93T F1 car. Lotus at the time was doing badly in Grand Prix racing, although it did not achieve the success they had in the past; so, a new weapon was needed. As the video shows, Lotus for the 1983 season focused on a radically new design to incorporate the immensely powerful Renault EF1 V6 Turbo engine. The party piece really. The video mentions 100 extra horsepower over a DFV, which is questionable since other sources speak of at least 700 horsepower by 1983. The new design did not stop there though, much attention was directed to improving the Lotus F1 car as a whole. More sophisticated chassis made out of kevlar and baked in autoclaves meant another new dimension for Lotus racing cars.
It follows that design methods had to be highly sophisticated for the time, as suggested in the video, though went hand in hand with traditional methods as wooden wind tunnel models. At the same time computers were introduced in the design process; analysing every little bit in the design of the cars, it was not so much a case anymore of build and try, but rather try and then build. On top of that due to the advanced Turbo engines there was no getting away from computers anymore, this was the era that engine management system were introduced and computer wizards took over the sport. Now, looking at Lotus, did this jump in development (the year before they had still been using the ancient Cosworth DFV V8) do them any good? Well, arguably no, Elio De Angelis practically retired in all the races this car was used but one, Mansell on the other hand didn't used it once relying on the older 92. A curse from the grave from its late designer perhaps or was the company that shaken by the death of Coling Chapman it could not produce a decent racer? We will probably never know. Unsurprisingly though, another new Lotus was introduced in mid-season, the 94T, which fared a little better. Enjoy this half hour video, it's worth it!