LotusAfter its 1978 dominance, the Lotus team had imploded spectacularly and had been making baby steps back to the front ever since. The team’s first turbo car, the 93T, had been a disaster, and when the better 94T came along, it was hobbled by the awful Pirelli race tyres. For 1984, team manager Peter Warr had managed to extricate Lotus from the Pirelli contract and instead arranged for a supply of Goodyears. Persistent rumours over the winter that Nigel Mansell would be sent packing after falling out with Peter Warr – and both Ayrton Senna and John Watson were spoken about for the seat – were finally quashed when, thanks to intervention from sponsors JPS, Mansell signed a new contract and buried the hatchet with Warr. Gerard Ducarouge’s new Lotus 95T was an evolution from the 94T rather than a complete redesign, but that would be no bad thing if the new tyres worked better with the car.

de Angelis11. Elio de Angelis it

De Angelis had had a season of two halves in 1983: as team leader (and providing a substantial wodge of cash), he got first call on the new Renault turbo in the 93T chassis. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a dreadful car and de Angelis simply wasn’t the sort of driver to knuckle down and make the best of a bad job. He perked up considerably when the new 94T arrived and began qualifying well, taking his first-ever pole position, and it was only the tyres and a bit of bad luck that prevented him from doing better in the races. There is a sense, though, that 1984 will be a make-or-break year for the Italian: if the car is good enough, there will be no excuses to hide behind…

Mansell12. Nigel Mansell gb

Mansell’s abrasive personality had caused him problems off the track but contributed to his success on it: never one to give up, he had managed to outscore de Angelis by dint of simple grit, keeping at it despite all the problems with the car to pick up points here and there, coming home fourth in his first race in the 94T, despite a dreadful qualifying session, and persevering with poor tyres at Brands long enough to change them for a good set and take third. He was still prone to trying too hard and throwing the car off the track in banzai overtaking manouevres, but perhaps if the car worked better for him he wouldn’t feel the need to make the most of the tiny opportunities.


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