The spare Lotus 48 Ford FVA, chassis 48-2 during the Eifelrennen Euro F2 round in the Nurburgring pitlane on 24 April…
Oliver’s Lotus Components entered Lotus 41B was the most successful of the Lotus works entries, he finished 11th. The Team Lotus duo of Graham Hill were 15th with Clark retiring with fuel metering unit failure. The latter two drove Lotus 48 Ford FVA’s, Oliver’s car was an update of Lotus’ 1966 contender. Jochen Rindt won the race in a Brabham BT23 FVA.
Oliver raced for the Charles Lucas factory Lotus F3 team in the second half of 1966, driving a Brabham BT18 Ford and Lotus 41 Ford finishing third in the Les Leston British F3 Championship, Harry Stiller won it from Chris Lambert.
For 1967 Oliver contested the British F2 Championship, finishing 5th, as well as many Euro F2 rounds, for 1968 he was a member of the ‘works’ F2 team racing Lotus 48’s together with Jim Clark and Graham Hill.
Then, in the worst of circumstances he ascended to the F1 team upon Jim Clark’s death at Hockenheim on 7 April during the second round of the 1968 Euro F2 Championship.
Oliver was 5th in the championship won that year by Henri Pescarolo’s Matra MS5 Ford, Rindt the dominant driver, as ever, in the category but ineligible for the title as a graded driver.
Olivers first Gold Leaf Team Lotus F1 race was the Monaco Grand Prix in which he qualified his Lotus 49B Ford 13th but was out on the first lap after colliding with Bruce McLaren.
In a character building year, he had a monster accident at during French GP practice when the cars rear wing support failed-pinging the fence of a chateau on an amazing 125mph trip thru the Rouen countryside. He was able to walk away but the car was hors ‘d combat, so that was his meeting.
His best result from a year in which Graham Hills tour de force of leadership gave him and the team world titles was Q2 in his home race at Brands Hatch, the race won by Jo Sifferts Rob Walker Lotus 49B, and 3rd in the season ending Mexican GP, Hill was the winner of that race.
For 1969 Jackie was off to BRM, Jochen Rindt took his Lotus seat for 1969 in an ‘all star’ team with Hill. It was a tough year in 1969 as BRM had ‘lost their way’ in a design sense, the P133/138/139 uncompetitive, better was to come in 1970 with the Tony Southgate designed P153.
Chapman waxed and waned between monocoques and space frame chassis for his ‘small bore’, production single-seaters throughout the 1960’s…
Whilst the marketing advantage of a you-beaut monocoque ‘just like Jim Clark’s Lotus 25’ was clear, equally the relative cost of repair of a spaceframe, especially in the field, a long way from the Norfolk was something which wasn’t lost on a lot of customers. Local garagiste ‘Louis the Torch’ may have been able to fix bent RF corner tubes, but he was less likely to be able to assist with curved sheet metal/aluminium complexities…
Statistically the most successful FJ/F3/F2/FB cars of the 1960’s were Ron Tauranac’s spaceframe Brabhams which were built to a consistent design philosophy throughout.
The cars were simple, strong, fast and forgiving straight outta the box. The latter because Jacks ‘finely tuned arse’ in testing contributed the ex-factory suspension settings which could be relied upon as a competitive, starting position by customers. Plenty of championships were won by not straying too far from them.
Lotus Components 1965 F2/3 car was the monocoque 35, a modified version of the 1964 32, with Clark winning plenty of races in the car including the Trophee de France, the Scot won 3 of the 4 rounds.
Aussie John Joyce (later the designer of magnificent Bowin racing cars when he returned to Australia) with assistance from Dave Baldwin were briefed to build a spaceframe F3/F2 frame for 1966 designated the 41. The Lotus brains trust were having second thoughts about monocoque chassis suitability in the junior classes. Issues were cost, weight and utility and expense of repair. The 41 was raced from 1966 to 1968 and whilst a good car didn’t have the factory support needed to further develop it, the exception the Lotus Components 41 raced by Oliver. The chassis was also raced in the US FB class.
The works Lotus F2 car for 1967, the first year of the 1.6 litre F2, the Lotus 48 was a monocoque, the car Oliver raced was the customer 41B, a spaceframe.
Both cars were comprehensively blown off by Tauranac’s Brabham BT23 which had some mighty fine pilots; aces like Rindt, but also coming drivers who extracted all the performance the car had to offer. The Matra F2’s, the MS5 and MS7 were also fairly tidy, fast (monocoque) devices…
Chapman’s 1969 F3/F2 car, the Dave Baldwin designed 59 was a spaceframe. Its successor, the final Lotus production racing cars produced in volumes, the 1970 69 was a spaceframe for FF/F3 (spaceframe chassis are mandated in FF) and a monocoque for F2. Go figure!? Mind you, the 59 and 69 were very effective, successful tools whatever the variant.
These Lotus chassis changes are only of arcane interest over the decade I guess. Perhaps the reasons for the choices were simply the opinions and preferences of the individual designer who worked on each cars design or layout, not that I am suggesting Chapman ever lacked clarity about direction or objectives in terms of giving design direction!
In terms of the general specifications of F2 cars of the early 1.6 litre Formula, those and that of the engine de jour, the Ford Cosworth FVA 1.6 litre unit are well covered in my article on the Lotus 48, click here to read it, there is no point repeating it all;
Rainer Schlegelmilch, Brian Watson, oldracephotos.com, Getty Images
Tailpiece: Ollie’s Lotus 48 aerobatics at Klostertal during the ’67 German GP weekend, he was the F2 category winner…