The sudden death of Colin Chapman in December 1982 shocked the world of Formula One, who lined up to pay tribute to the man whose genius had changed Formula One several times – the introduction of the Ford DFV engine, commercial sponsorship, aerodynamic wings and ground effects had all been brainchilds of Chapman.
In his place to run the Lotus team came Peter Wright and Peter Warr, who oversaw the development over the winter of the Lotus 93T chassis to carry the Renault-Gordini Turbo engine that Chapman had negotiated. Only one motor would be available initially, which Elio de Angelis’ status as team leader secured for him, with Mansell continuing with the modified 1982 car (designated the Lotus 92) with Cosworth power until a second Renault unit became available later in the season.
The Italian had broken his winner’s duck in 1982 with a fine drive in Austria but this success had been the one stand-out moment in another mediocre season. De Angelis had fallen out with Mansell early in the season and his petulant streak came out on a number of occasions when the car wasn’t working for him – most notably at Monaco where he had shown a stubborn refusal to be lapped and may have even contributed to Prost’s accident. After four years with Lotus, de Angelis still shows signs of potential, but will need to mature mentally to make the most of them.
The Englishman had shown his grit in 1982 in the face of adversity with combative drives from towards the back of the grid, but all too often had left himself too much work to do after qualifying. However, his persistence was what gained him his two points scores, in Rio and Monaco – and also led to him trying to come back from injury earlier than he should have and exacerbating it. Like de Angelis, Mansell is clearly a talented driver but needs to step up his game in 1983 – especially as his blunt nature has led to clashes with Peter Warr, now his new boss…