Lotus 43

Lotus 43

by Luca Dal Monte

The Lotus 43 is a gamble that Colin Chapman makes in 1966, deciding to utilize in Formula 1 some of the solutions and the experience gained with the Lotus 38, with which Jim Clark won the 1965 Indianapolis 500. The gamble doesn’t pay off. The Lotus 43 only competes in a handful of races and achieves a single victory, naturally with Clark, and it will soon be abandoned, although it should be noted that Chapman also fields it in the first race of the 1967 season, which ends with two retirements.

At the heart of the project are the new regulations, which require three-litre engines and wider tires. Chapman decides to build a sturdier chassis than the previous one to accommodate the heavy and bulky sixteen-cylinder engine produced by BRM, with which he signs a supply agreement. BRM’s chief engineer, Tony Rudd, who draws inspiration from aircraft engines, leads the project. On paper, the engine, which has a power of 420 HP, may seem unbeatable. In reality, it will never be reliable, struggling to reach the promised power, and Chapman will soon decide to get rid of it.

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Jim Clark: The flying Scotsman is the driver with whom Colin Chapman has won the most professionally and with whom he has bonded the most personally. Due to a Lotus 33 that has already given everything it could and a Lotus 43 that doesn’t deliver what it seems to offer, the 1966 season is not among the best of their partnership. As a testament to the Scottish driver’s talent, an unremarkable season still sees him take the unlikely Lotus 43 to the top step of the podium.

Pete Arundell: In the 1966 season, the English driver partners with Clark in the official Lotus team. It’s his third and final season in Formula 1, always with Chapman’s squad, and the first in which he competes in the entire championship. With the Lotus 43, he races only in the French Grand Prix, where he retires during the third lap due to gearbox failure.

Graham Hill: The great English champion returns to Lotus in 1967 and competes in his first race driving the model 43. It’s the South African Grand Prix, which ends for him on the sixth lap due to an accident.

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Yet, despite everything, the Lotus 43 with the BRM engine manages to achieve the goal of winning a race. It’s October 2, 1966, at the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. Jack Brabham and Lorenzo Bandini, who led the race at different times, are both forced to retire. Clark, following them, takes the lead and holds it until the chequered flag. While waiting for the arrival of the model 49, Lotus returns to the 33 model.

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