Next weekend’s European Grand Prix will be a cause of significant reflection for the Lotus team, which will start its 500th Grand Prix under its entry name, which returns to F1 this season after a 15-year absence from the grid.
Fifty-two years have passed since the first Lotus cars started a Grand Prix – Monaco 1958, to be exact (pictured) – and the team was a force for technical innovation and championship victories in the 1960s and 1970s under the guidance of Colin Chapman.
After his death in 1982, the team fell into a steady decline and its fortunes were bolstered by a handful of victories with Ayrton Senna at the wheel in 1985-7. Thereafter, it was very much a shadow of its former self under the team collapsed under a mountain of debts at the end of the 1994 season.
Then, after its record of 107 pole positions, 79 race victories, and 71 fastest laps had seemingly been consigned to the record books, the name of Formula 1’s fourth all-time Constructor was resurrected by the Tony Fernandes-owned 1Malaysia group, which bears Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli on its driving roster.
If we’re to be fussy, last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix marked the team’s 500th entry, but as the team withdrew from starting the 1970 Italian Grand Prix when its lead driver (and later, posthumous champion) Jochen Rindt died during practice for the race.
In order to mark the occasion, Champman’s son, Clive, will attend the festivities in Valencia.
[Original images via The Cahier Archive]