After fifteen eventful years, Lotus is set to return to a very different Formula 1 scene – or at least, the name ‘Lotus’ will be anyway. For reasons that continue to mystify me, business tycoon Tony Fernandes and the Malaysian government have negotiated the right to use the Lotus name.
For me, the ‘Real Lotus’ died when founder and team boss Colin Chapman passed away in 1982. With no continuity, a completely different nationality and vastly different circumstances, ‘New Lotus’ can never really pick up the reigns and continue from where Chapman left off. The last car to be created under his watchful eye being the John Player Special Lotus 93T; which just so happens to be the centre piece of Duke Video’s latest DVD offering: ‘Lotus Goes Turbo.’
Dug out of the archives almost three decades after it was recorded, ‘Lotus Goes Turbo’ follows the legendary team and the creation of the Lotus 93T, from conception to racetrack.
Running at just 26 minutes, this documentary does a half-decent job of showing every step of the design, building and testing as Lotus moved into the turbo era with the potent V6 Renault engine which would provide them with an extra 100bhp.
The film begins with Elio de Angelis scoring his first Formula 1 win in August 1982, swiftly followed by the shock announcement by Chapman that Lotus would be abandoning the aspirated Cosworth engines for the 1983 season.
From there, the behind the scenes footage takes us inside the team’s Norfolk headquarters to watch the 93T come to life. Access to the workshops as wooden models are being built, wind tunnel tests conducted and the finished car taking shape.
The loss of Chapman is also briefly touched on and how the team coped with his untimely death. His contribution remembered in archive footage of the 1960s and ‘70s. His departure was a major blow to Lotus (and to Formula 1), but this footage shows how the team dug deep to keep the project on schedule. The DVD then concludes with the launch of the 93T, plus footage of the two-day test at the Paul Ricard circuit, which saw de Angelis take the brand new car around quicker than the works Renault by 0.4 seconds.
As a snapshot of a particular point in time, ‘Lotus Goes Turbo’ will undoubtedly conjure up respect for the motorsport icon; its history, tradition, all with a splash of black and gold. It’s not without its faults however.
Narrated at the time, and sounding awfully like an Open University lecture, we’re never really given a comprehensive reason as to why Lotus went down the turbo route. Nor do we ever know if the 93T was competitive during the 1983 World Championship (answer: it was hugely unreliable).
The content is very sparse, and the inclusion of a completely non-related short feature entitled ‘Anatomie d’un Depart’ (Anatomy of the Start) appears to have been tacked on in an effort to boost the running time.
But as a trip down memory lane, ‘Lotus Goes Turbo’ does exactly what it says on the tin. And if ‘New Lotus’ ever need reminding of everything ‘Real Lotus’ stood for, they could do a lot worse than watch this.