As detailed in yesterday’s post, Ferrari are back on top after a few years in middle of the F1 pack, but there was a time when they barely won anything. And not because they had a bad car either.
Ferrari (and everyone else’s) woe was due to the utter dominance of one car, the pioneering Lotus 79, the first car to make full use of ground effect aerodynamics.
The first Formula 1 car designed using computer design aids, Lotus took downforce to an entirely new level, with the 79 producing 30% more of it than even their own car from the previous year. The suction generated by the 79 at speed was so strong that early cars suffered chassis fatigue and had to be strengthened to allow them to cope with race distances.
The strengthening worked, and the cars went even faster in setting. Upon the 79’s debut at the 1978 Belgium Grand Prix Mario Andretti took pole by over a second, and won the race ahead of the next Lotus in second place by ten seconds, with Ferrari in third almost half a minute behind. In fact, so fast were the new Lotuses that Ferrari could only win if the 79s retired.
Lotus finished the season with 50% more points than the next nearest team, securing the 79’s position amongst Formula 1’s most dominant ever designs.
This spectacular homage to one of Formula 1’s greats is the work of previous bloggee and TLCB Master MOCer Luca Rusconi aka RoscoPC. Built eleven years ago, Luca has recently uploaded his model to Flickr, and despite its age Luca’s 79 is still one of the finest Lego F1 replicas you’ll see. Accurate decals, a working V8 engine, steering and suspension are all included, and there’s lots more to see at Luca’s Lotus 79 Flickr album by clicking here.