x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Top 5: Racing drivers associated with Lotus Cars

Many famous names raced for Lotus over the years but here are five bona fide legends.

John Surtees.
John Surtees.

Jim Clark

Perhaps no other driver in history is tied to Lotus more than Jim Clark. First coming to Colin Chapman's attention by beating him in a car race, Clark joined the team in 1960 and went on to win 25 F1 races and two championships for Lotus, while losing at least two other titles due to mechanical failures. In 1968, driving in an F2 race at Hockenheim, he was killed when he crashed into the woods. The paddock, where the ever-smiling Scot was popular, was devasted, but none more so than Chapman, who said he had lost his best friend.

Graham Hill

Every bit as debonair and quintessentially English as Chapman, Graham Hill has gone down in history as one of the greatest drivers ever to hail from the UK. After having served in the Royal Navy, his F1 racing career started in 1958 for Lotus, where he'd previously been employed as a mechanic. He raced for Lotus for several seasons and eventually succeeded in winning, not only the F1 world championship twice, but also the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indy 500 - the only driver ever to do so. Hill died in 1975.

John Surtees

Proof, if any were needed, that Chapman only took on the best, John Surtees is the only person ever to have won world championships on four wheels and two. He switched from motorcycle racing to Formula One in 1960, aged 26, debuting at the Monaco Grand Prix for Lotus and immediately grabbed the world's attention by taking second place in only his second race. By his third race he was on pole. In 1963 he joined Ferrari and won the championship a year later. Surtees, now aged 78, is still actively involved in motorsport.

Stirling Moss

Ask almost anyone to name a legendary racing driver and, chances are, they'll namecheck Stirling Moss, yet he never won a single world championship. A prolific racer, Moss drove for a great many different manufacturers over the course of his decade-long F1 career and competed in 67 grands prix. He won the 1960 Monaco GP for Lotus but hung up his racing helmet in 1963, a year after a serious crash at Goodwood's circuit (in a Lotus) put him in a coma that lasted a whole month.

Mario Andretti

One of America's most successful racing drivers, Andretti met Chapman during his first Indy 500 season in 1965 and three years later he was driving for Lotus. He only raced in F1 sporadically but in 1976 he returned to Chapman's team on a full-time basis and, in 1978, he won the championship. Much of this success came as a result of his expertise in setting up the car's suspension and his knowledge of aerodynamics and downforce, which Lotus was pioneering at the time. He retired from F1 in 1982 and went IndyCar racing.