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Lotus 102
Lotus 102B.jpg
Category Formula One
Constructor Lotus
Designer(s)
Technical specifications
Chassis Carbon-fibre monocoque
Engine Lamborghini V12
Transmission
Tyres Goodyear
Competition history
Notable entrants Team Lotus
Notable drivers Martin Donnelly, Derek Warwick, Mika Häkkinen, Johnny Herbert
Debut 1990 United States Grand Prix
Races Wins Poles Fastest laps
32+ 0 0 0
Constructors' Championships 0
Drivers' Championships 0

The Lotus 102 was a Formula One racing car designed by Lotus for use in the 1990 Formula One season. The 102 was an evolution of the Lotus 101 and would eventually go on to compete in 37 races spanning three seasons from 1990 until 1992.

Using the 101 as its basis Frank Dernie incorporated the Lamborghini V12 engine that had been used by the Lola team during the previous season. Its use made the 102 the only Lotus to race with a V12 engine. The engine had several drawbacks, principally its size, weight and fuel economy. However, it was believed that the increases in power would offset these drawbacks. The engine’s size meant it had to be located lower in the chassis, which also had to be designed to its widest permitted dimensions in order to incorporate larger fuel tanks. Furthermore due to the engine's mass every component on the car had to be scrutinised to investigate whether any further weight reductions could be made elsewhere.

The departure of Nelson Piquet and Satoru Nakajima the previous season brought in the experienced Derek Warwick and promoted test driver Martin Donnelly to fill the other vacant drivers seat. The inclusion of these drivers, who were taller than Piquet and Nakajima incurred another design compromise as the car had to be taller than was desired.

Team Lotus' manager Rupert Mainwarring confidently predicted that the team would score 40 championship points. By the first round of the championship it was apparent that this confidence was completely misplaced.

Team Lotus were to struggle throughout the season to score three points, its lowest score since 1958. Ultimately this performance was to witness the departure of Camel sponsorship and almost cost the team its existence. Fortunately in December 1990 Peter Collins and Peter Wright headed a consortium which bought the team. Due to the eleventh hour nature of the takeover the team were unable to start the season with sufficient sponsorship. In addition, the planned introduction of Dernie’s type 103 was shelved, the team instead opting to refresh the 102 to B standards.

Type 102B

The Lotus 102B was Team Lotus' entry to the 1991 season. Despite having over 800 new components incorporated the new car was not significantly different from the 102 to justify a new type designation. This continued the precedent set by Lotus 30 years previously, whereby the Type 25 was almost completely redesigned, but was still designated the 25B.

The heavy and ultimately unreliable Lamborghini engine was replaced by the Judd EV V8 and the driver line-up was also changed. Mika Häkkinen and Julian Bailey filled the seats vacated by a frustrated Derek Warwick and injured Martin Donnelly. It was apparent that the car was nowhere near the pace setters of the McLaren MP4-6 and the Williams FW14 at the opening round in Phoenix. Häkkinen would go on to describe that during this race his steering wheel actually came off. Bailey’s failure to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix prompted his departure and replacement with test driver Johnny Herbert for the remainder of the season. Due to Herbert's International Formula 3000 commitments the German driver Michael Bartels raced in his absence but failed to quality.

The 102B enabled the team to equal their 1990 points total of three points. With increased sponsorship and the delay of the 107 it was to continue racing for the first four races of the 1992 season in D specification. The C specification incorporated an Isuzu V12 engine that had been developed throughout the season but never raced.

Type 102D

The final incarnation of the 102, was the makeshift 102D that represented Team Lotus' for the start of the 1992 season. Outwardly similar to the 102B, the car had a Cosworth HB V8 in place of the Judd EV V8. In an attempt to gain exposure a 102D driven by Johnny Herbert broke the Brands Hatch Indy circuit record for the BBC Record Breakers programme.

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