Lotus has built a car in memory of its last F1 grand prix winner - the Honda-powered 99T driven by Ayrton Senna. Is it a fitting tribute to a classic F1 car - or merely a clever sales ploy?
Lotus has built a car in memory of its last F1 grand prix winner - the Honda-powered 99T driven by Ayrton Senna.
Decked out in the yellow livery of Camel, the 99T proved to be one of Lotus' more successful F1 cars. Senna and Satoru Nakajima campaigned the 99T during 1987 and the legendary Brazilian scored wins at Detroit and Monte Carlo that season.
The 99T was powered by a twin-turbo Honda unit that was one of the most powerful engine of Formula One's turbocharged era and featured active suspension, a system that played an integral role in the sport until the end of 1993.
But at the end of 1987, Senna left Lotus to join McLaren - a team for which he would win three world championships (1988, 1990 and 1991). Lotus was never the same again... In 1994, the year in which Senna was killed in an accident at the San Marino Grand Prix, the Lotus F1 team quit the grand prix circus for good.
In 2003, the big names in Formula One are Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen and Juan-Pablo Montoya and not Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Senna, Alain Prost or Gerhard Berger as it was in 1987.
But for those who think fondly of the days when there were about 30 cars on an F1 grid and things like one lap qualifying, traction control, pit lane speed limiters and barge boards hadn't even been dreamt up - the Elise Type 99T could be for them.
Painted in 'Saffron Yellow' with subtle blue detailing to mirror that of the original racecar, the Elise Type 99T "commemorates one of the most recognisable cars in the history of F1", Lotus claims.
It is powered by a double overhead camshaft 16-valve 1,8-litre four cylinder engine that kicks out a maximum of 118 kW at 7 000 r/min and 175 N.m of torque between 3 500 and 4 650 r/min.
Lotus claims a maximum speed of 212 km/h and that the Type 99T will sprint from zero to 100km/h in 5,3 seconds and zero to 160km/h in 14 seconds.
The car has black Lotus-styled eight spoke wheels and the interior is furnished in perforated black leather sports seats and door panels, black alcantara dash panel, cross-drilled brakes, CD player, black soft-top and black carpets.
It's been almost 16 years since Lotus won its last grand prix and about nine years since the team left F1... does the British manufacturer's F1 tribute car have a chance of success?