Only one car in Formula 1 history had two chassis to create the most efficient ground effect. Unfortunately, this car was banned from racing and never demonstrated its true potential.
Mechanical engineer and aerodynamicist Peter Wright, who today works as a technical consultant for the FIA was one of the fathers of this revolutionary car.
In 1980, the ground effect cars (also called wing cars) with skirts were terribly dangerous to drive because they were blindingly quick in the corners and they were a nightmare to drive because of their extremely stiff suspension.
Ground effect used venturi tunnels located inside the sidepods to create a zone of low air pressure underneath the floor that sucked the car to the track, permitting very fast cornering speeds.
Talking about the Lotus T80, Wright said: “The excessive pitch sensitivity, combined with sticking curved skirts running from just behind the front wheels, around the rear wheels to the extreme rear of the car, caused that driver-frightening phenomenon, ‘porpoising’.”
To solve this problem, Colin Chapman, Peter Wright and Martin Ogilvie of Lotus understood that the solution was to isolate the sidepods from the rest of the car.
It the sidepods would remain static, they would create more suction and the centre of aerodynamic pressure would remain standstill.
Peter Wight had a brilliant idea. “Unconstrained by any performance regulations, there was no reason why a ground effect underbody could not be connected directly to the outboard ends of the lower suspension members, and not to the sprung part of the car,” he said.
The team started working on the T88 that would be fitted with two chassis.