Mario Andretti admits he is incredibly impressed with the new Lotus F1 team, with the return of the Lotus name to the F1 grid for the first time in 16 years.

In our exclusive interview with Mario – which will be published in full later today – we asked Mario about his take on the return of the Lotus name to the grid.

“It seems to me like it’s a very serious, long-term effort and also you could definitely see that they had a very special appreciation for the brand and they feel all the responsibility that goes with it,” he said. “I think that they are definitely also enjoying the attention that they’re getting because of that.

Mario Andretti was impressed with the debut of the new Lotus team

“I was very, very impressed as to how well the team looked all round – how professional it looked in the relatively short time they had to get it together, infrastructure included. I think it’s going to be very interesting to watch their progress,” he continued.

Mario was the last driver to win a World Championship in a Lotus car, taking the 1978 Drivers’ Championship title in the ground-effect Lotus 79.

Can Lotus achieve the same level of success under their new owners, we asked?

Andretti 1978 Germany
Andretti with Lotus founder Colin Chapman, 1978

“I would love to see Lotus do that,” he said. “Quite honestly, it’s a new team and, like the other new teams, they were quite a bit off the pace, but the presentation was extremely professional, the cars looked great, and they finished. So you could see that it’s a very serious effort.

“[Technical Director] Mike Gascoyne is a no-nonsense type of individual who can get the job done and I think, if given the opportunity to progress and develop and do more internal work – they all know they’re a bit short on downforce [at the moment] – it’s going to make all the difference in their performance as time progresses.

“I would love to see them really do well. I think it would be a satisfaction from this side to see them represent that brand with some great results.”

[Original images via AUTOSPORT and The Cahier Archives]

The following two tabs change content below.

Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.