A pretty Lotus, but …
Ronnie Peterson (photo above) and Jacky Ickx had high hopes coming into the 1974 season. The Lotus 76, designed by Colin Chapman, Tony Rudd and Ralph Bellamy, was intended to be a more advanced version of the excellent Lotus 72.
The car had a longer wheelbase, a lighter chassis and featured a bi-plane rear wing, designed to produce more downforce and stability. Additionally it had an electronically operated clutch, which was well ahead of its time.
From the beginning, both Peterson and Ickx complained that the car lacked feel, and that the electronic clutch was giving problems.
The early results were not bad, Peterson qualifying 2nd and Ickx 5th at the Spanish Grand Prix, before both having to retire. But after the Belgian Grand Prix, where the car did not perform well at all, both drivers insisted on going back to the 72.
Chapman then introduced an upgraded ‘B’ version with enlarged side pods and better cooling for the German Grand Prix, but the drivers did not notice much improvement. The team eventually had to accept that the 76 was a step in the wrong direction, and reverted to racing the 72 that was used till … the end of 1975.