Although I generally find myself stunned by the sheer beauty of the 77 and the raw lines of both 43/49 models, it is unquestionable that the Lotus 98T was one of the most impressive F1 cars in history, in just about every single aspect.
First let’s start with the figures. The engine was from Renault, a tiny 1.5 litre V6 mounted in the middle, a configuration that didn’t prevent it from boosting as much as 1200bhp. It was also very light, no more than 540kg. That made it very very fast, with a speculated top speed of around 340km/h.
With Ayrton Senna behind the wheel, this Lotus 98T conquered some astonishing 8 Pole Positions (Brazil, San Marino, USA, France, Hungary, Portugal and Mexico Grand Prix’s) and two victories (USA and Spain), as well as countless starting positions in the grid. All of this in just 16 races.
All of these figures were so impressive that in 1986 some people in the F1 paddock began to question about the legality of the 98T, since Lotus liked to keep many details for themselves at the time.
Senna made it popular, but he wasn’t the only one to drive the 98T. Johnny Dumfries also competed in it, alongside Senna in 1986.