Lotus 97T - 1985 Portuguese GP Winner - Senna

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Technical Details

  • Description
  • Scale guide

The 97T was Team Lotus’ representative in the 1985 Formula One season. Designed by French engineer Gérard Ducarouge, the 97T was a development of the previous year’s 95T, using elements from the abandoned 96T IndyCar project. Driven by Italian Elio de Angelis and rising star Ayrton Senna, the 97T proved competitive, taking three wins, six further podiums, eight pole positions and three fastest laps as well as collecting 71 Championship points. It is generally agreed that the Lotus 97T had the best chassis of any car that competed during that season, with the best braking and turning capabilities, meaning it peaked at slow and tight circuits like Monaco, Montreal, Detroit and Adelaide. However, while fast, it was unreliable mechanically, particularly with its Renault engine. Out of its ten retirements that year, seven were mechanical. It is considered that Senna lost a chance to compete for the 1985 Drivers’ Championship because of the reliability issues.

Lotus finished fourth in the Constructors' Championship, albeit tied on points with Williams, who finished in third place owing to their greater number of race victories.

This perfect 1:8 scale recreation of the Lotus 97T is as raced by Ayrton Senna at the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix. Senna qualified on pole half a second in front of favourite Alain Prost in his McLaren. The weather for the race was abysmal, described “survival of the fittest” by Renault driver Patrick Tambay, but rising star Senna demonstrated his mastery of the wet conditions. He controlled the over two hour long race from the start, lapping all but second place, who was still over a minute behind, and setting the fastest lap as well. This was both Senna’s first pole position and his first victory, feats he would go on the repeat 64 and 40 more times respectively. This win at Estoril birthed the legend of Senna. Race engineer, Steve Hallam, still recognises the importance of that first win: “It felt like the start of something, there’s no doubt about it.”

Senna himself knew the significance of his performance that day: ““People later said that my win in the wet at Donington in ’93 was my greatest performance - no way! I had traction control! Ok, I didn’t make any real mistakes, but the car was so much easier to drive. It was a good win, sure, but, compared with Estoril ‘85, it was nothing, really. The champagne for sure had a special taste that day.”

This model has been handcrafted and finished in our workshops with the co-operation and assistance of Lotus regarding original finishes, materials, archive imagery and drawings. The use of supremely accurate digital scanning of the original car has allowed us to perfectly recreate every detail at scale. Furthermore, it has undergone detailed scrutiny by both Lotus's engineering and design teams to ensure complete accuracy of representation.

The Lotus 97T is limited to only 199 pieces.


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