Lotus 49B

Lotus 49B

by Luca Dal Monte

The experience gained in the previous season proves valuable for Team Lotus in the following year of 1968 when the 49B model succeeds the Lotus 49. In the B version, the Lotus 49 brings a championship title to one of Chapman’s drivers. With Clark’s untimely passing in April at Hockenheim during a Formula 2 race, it’s Graham Hill who secures the World Championship title – his second world title. To replace Clark alongside Hill, Chapman calls upon the English driver Jackie Oliver, who was already within the orbit of his team.

With the 49B model, Lotus breaks with the past and abandons the traditional British Racing Green livery in favor of the red-white-gold of the new generous sponsor, Gold Leaf. For Formula 1, this is an epoch-making step.

The major difference of the Lotus 49 compared to the previous version – aside from the colour scheme – is the wheelbase, which in the new version is five centimetres longer – and, of course, the appearance of the first aerodynamic wings. Chapman also replaces the gearbox, opting for Hewland technology instead of ZF, and modifies the suspensions to accommodate the new wider-section Firestone tires.

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Graham Hill: Despite transmission issues with his Lotus 49, Graham wins in Spain, Monaco, and Mexico, and, thanks to three second places, clinches his second World Championship title. Paradoxically, his greatest contribution to the team comes away from the tracks when, after Jim Clark’s passing, Colin Chapman goes through a long period of crisis and stays away from the circuits with Graham taking care of day-to-day operations.

Jackie Oliver: For the English driver, the 1968 season marks his first full season in Formula 1, following his debut at the 1967 German Grand Prix driving a Formula 2 Lotus – at the time, this sort of things also happened: a Formula 1 race open to Formula 2 cars… In 1968, Oliver’s best result is a third place in Mexico City in the last race of the season.

Jo Siffert: With the Lotus 49B fielded by the Rob Walker Racing Team, Siffert secures his first Formula 1 victory. It marks the first victory for a Swiss driver in the premier series.

Our model cars:

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Chapman sells one unit of the 49B model to Rob Walker, who entrusts it to the Swiss driver Jo Siffert during the 1968 season, where he achieves an extraordinary victory at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

The Lotus 49, in its three base, B, and C versions, will race until the early part of the 1970 season. Out of a total of 42 races contested, it will win 12, reach the podium 23 times, secure 19 pole positions, and set 13 fastest laps during races. And, of course, it clinches the 1968 World Championship title.

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