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Peterson, Reutemann, Villeneuve and Lotus (1979)


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#1 maplestone71

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 22:30

Some more random questions from me.

I believe that the reason Ronnie decided to move on from Lotus towards the end of the 1978 season, was because Andretti wouldn't sign up to equal number 1 status.

At the same time, however, I seem to remember that when Lole joined Mario for 1979, it was on equal terms with Mario.

Are these two statements correct and, if so, what happened to enable the change in terms for Mario's team-mate?

Also, as I think has been mentionned in another thread, in Jabby Crombac's superb Chapman biography, he mentions a meeting with Chapman where it was stated that he had potential contracts with both Reutemann and Villeneuve for the 1979 season. Has this ever been referenced elsewhere and do we know why Chapman decided on Reutemann (Crombac mentions possible pressure from Goodyear)?

Finally, anybody care to speculate on the impact of Villeneuve driving for Chapman in the late 1970s / early 1980s, assuming of course it lasted longer than Lole's residence in Hethel ...

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#2 Direct Drive

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 22:36

" ...was because Andretti wouldn't sign up to equal number 1 status."



I don't believe this was correct, because Mario was in the midst of a continuing contract with Lotus. I think Peterson was offered a BIG contract from McL's and Mario was certainly in line for developing the Lotus 80, which (like many of Chapman's designs) was supposed to be a world beater "...make the 79 look like a London bus..."

Edited by Direct Drive, 10 May 2009 - 22:37.


#3 maplestone71

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 22:43

I think you're quite right, I should have said that Mario maybe vetoed Ronnie's claim for equal number 1, but then seemingly allowed Lole that status (unless I'm very much mistaken ...)

#4 Direct Drive

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 22:48

And we could both be that............. ! :wave:

And although Chapman's cars were known as fragile, perhaps Gilles would have lasted as long in a Lotus as he did in the 126? Sad speculation.

Edited by Direct Drive, 10 May 2009 - 22:49.


#5 lil'chris

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 22:52

I think Ronnie was probably looking to be outright No 1 which he couldn't have had at Lotus but would at McLaren. According to the website run by his brother Tommy, Ronnie may have been intending to retire from F1 after the 1979 season so this would've been his last chance at a championship, though hindsight indicates what a waste of his time it would've been.

#6 Ruairidh

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 23:06

The topic of who was to drive for Lotus and how Colin made his choice - Jabby's reference to Colin having two contracts in his drawer, one for Lole and the other for Gilles, has been discussed before with some good info and losts of speculation. It maybe worth reviving that old thread and seeing if any new info has emerged.

#7 maplestone71

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 22:42

Ruairidh - thanks for this you're absolutely right, this has been covered elsewhere (except maybe for the #1 issue)

I should have known better than to suspect I had a question not already answered elsewhere
:rolleyes:

#8 Ruairidh

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 01:35

Ruairidh - thanks for this you're absolutely right, this has been covered elsewhere (except maybe for the #1 issue)

I should have known better than to suspect I had a question not already answered elsewhere
:rolleyes:


I think it is a fascinating "what if". Can you imagine Gilles in a Lotus, assume the T80 was the wrong turn it was in 1979, whether Gilles could have wrung enough out of the T79 on different tires to compete. And how Colin, in 1979, would have reacted to such a young talent........


#9 Tim Murray

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 09:46

It maybe worth reviving that old thread and seeing if any new info has emerged.

One of these, perhaps:

When Enzo almost sacked Gilles to keep Lolé

Gilles and Lotus in 1979


#10 Giraffe

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 10:00




I don't believe this was correct, because Mario was in the midst of a continuing contract with Lotus. I think Peterson was offered a BIG contract from McL's and Mario was certainly in line for developing the Lotus 80, which (like many of Chapman's designs) was supposed to be a world beater "...make the 79 look like a London bus..."


Posted Image
By giraffe138

Well, a London bus is a bit extreme.......... This is the ex-Andretti Lotus 80 that was being campaigned in the GP Masters at Donington last weekend by Sid Hoole. Just looking for an excuse to post a pic of this dramatic and beautiful car!


#11 maplestone71

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 19:59

I think it is a fascinating "what if". Can you imagine Gilles in a Lotus, assume the T80 was the wrong turn it was in 1979, whether Gilles could have wrung enough out of the T79 on different tires to compete. And how Colin, in 1979, would have reacted to such a young talent........



I'm with you on this and I guess that was primarily in my thinking when I first posted.

I know Chapman was (according to Peter Windsor in old F1 Racing article) bowled over by Lole's qualifying performance at Long Beach 1979, I can't help but think that Villeneuve fitted the mould of drivers that really fired Chapman's enthusiasm for the sport (i.e. balls-out racers like Clark, Rindt and Peterson who liked to grab a race by the neck from the start and really dominate it).

Though Chapman was hardly quiet on the innovation front in his final years, I can't help but think that a driver like Villeneuve would have ensured his attention was on F1 much more than Andretti or Reutemann could (let alone "Our Nige" and de Angelis)

#12 David Force

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 09:46

I'm with you on this and I guess that was primarily in my thinking when I first posted.

I know Chapman was (according to Peter Windsor in old F1 Racing article) bowled over by Lole's qualifying performance at Long Beach 1979, I can't help but think that Villeneuve fitted the mould of drivers that really fired Chapman's enthusiasm for the sport (i.e. balls-out racers like Clark, Rindt and Peterson who liked to grab a race by the neck from the start and really dominate it).

Though Chapman was hardly quiet on the innovation front in his final years, I can't help but think that a driver like Villeneuve would have ensured his attention was on F1 much more than Andretti or Reutemann could (let alone "Our Nige" and de Angelis)


I rather think that by this time Chapman had realised that things had moved on and you did need a more 'technical' driver to succeed. Proof of this is his relationship with Mario and the enjoyment he got out of exploring such things as tyre stagger and aero profile front wishbones, none of which Mad Ronald understood !

Our heroes nearly always (by definition ? ) die young and maybe it is better we remember, fondly, Ronnie obeying team orders when he had to and being blindingly fast when he could in the gorgeous Lotus 79 rather than struggling to sort out what would become the disastrous McLaren M29.

It is perhaps ironic that the Lotus 80 and McLaren M29 were both spawned from the same desire for maximum under body wing area and gave no thought to the practicalities of actually racing the devices. Shades of Adrian Newey in later years !

Talking of Villeneuve at Lotus wasn't there some talk of Gilles and Rene Arnoux getting together and forming a new team to run a DFV car as they were both fed up with their 'manufacturer' teams. Now that would have been exciting... :cool:






#13 ghinzani

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 10:18

Talking of Villeneuve at Lotus wasn't there some talk of Gilles and Rene Arnoux getting together and forming a new team to run a DFV car as they were both fed up with their 'manufacturer' teams. Now that would have been exciting... :cool:



Oh yes indeed! I have vague memories of Gilles wanting to start a team but I dont recall who would have designed the cars. Was this at the end of 1980 perhaps? It would tie in, or perhaps even 81 but by then the writing was on the wall that Turbos were the way to go even if Rene was having problems with his team-mate and Gilles having issues with an awful chassis. Can you remember how galled (gauled?) Rene was when he dropped it at Monaco in 82 as he had wanted to win at Zolder but had issues and was determined to win at Monaco so he could dedicate it to his friend Gilles. Top man Rene, despite his later fall from grace.

#14 Tim Murray

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 10:42

Can you remember how galled (gauled?) Rene was when he dropped it at Monaco in 82 as he had wanted to win at Zolder but had issues and was determined to win at Monaco so he could dedicate it to his friend Gilles. Top man Rene, despite his later fall from grace.

Very interesting. Could this be the reason (or one of them) why he ignored team orders later on in France?

Edited by Tim Murray, 13 May 2009 - 10:44.


#15 Mohican

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 11:37

Ronnie left Lotus in '78 since he a) wanted to be no 1, or at least joint no 1, b) because he had used his Lotus opprtunity to re-establish himself, but still felt badly let down by Chapman in 1975-76, and c) because McLaren (and Marlboro) badly wanted him to replace Hunt.

It is tragic to think that his 1979 season would have turned out like 1977 - but at least he was spared that.
Ronnie in a McLaren-TAG/Porsche (had he stuck around that long) would have been worth watching, though.
Or Ronnie in any turbo car, come to that.

#16 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 12:37

Or Ronnie in any turbo car, come to that.


King of Drift with Turbo!!