Nigel Mansell, Lotus 81B, Hethel, 2011

Nigel Mansell reunited with Lotus 81B at Hethel

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Nigel Mansell got back behind the wheel of the car he made his F1 debut in.

The 1992 world champion drove a Lotus 81B at the opening of Group Lotus’s new test track in Hethel, where the original Lotus F1 team used to test its cars.

Mansell’s son Leo drove the famous Lotus 88 – the twin-chassis car which was banned from competing in 1981.

Former F1 driver Jean Alesi piloted a Lotus T125 – the company’s F1-style customer experience car – painted in the black and gold colours used by Renault this year.

Renault drivers Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna were also on-hand for demonstration laps in their F1 show car.

Mansell said: “What a joy it was to be reunited with my old 81B after 30 years.

“This is a very special place, Hethel, and it was wonderful to open the circuit today by driving alongside my sons Leo and Greg.

Mansell first raced the 81B in the 1980 Austrian Grand Prix.

Hethel test track opening pictures

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35 comments on “Nigel Mansell reunited with Lotus 81B at Hethel”

  1. Horrible-looking car but it must have been a nice moment for Nigel.

    1. It has a decent livery for the time though.

    2. Why does it not have a front wing?

      1. To reduce drag.

        The Lotus 80 and 81 produced so much downforce (for the time) from ground effect that they thought it didn’t need a front wing, and the rear wing was mostly used to trim the car rather than produce much downforce. These were times when they hadn’t worked out suspensions to handle the issues of ground effect (which was what the 88 was all about) so you could easily have too much down force which produced porpoiseing and other handling problems.

    3. Horrible-looking car but it must have been a nice moment for Nigel.

      It’s a magnificent looking car!! Beautiful!

      1. This always happens when I point out an ugly car ;)

      2. I’m with you Damon, those old cars are exceptionally good looking !

      3. Well Damon, to be fair, Icthyes thinks the R29 was ugly, so… :P

  2. any video? would love to hear the roar from these cars!

  3. Is that a Team Lotus shirt I see? I do believe it is!
    Own goal by Bahar, I think!

    1. a CLASSIC TEAM LOTUS shirt. they are the only team lotus that honours and respects the heritage of lotus past. and are proudly supported by Lotus cars.

      You sir, are the only one who scored an own goal here.

      1. Another Lotus? Gosh, who’d have known!

    2. Classic Team Lotus, They own or maintenance old Lotus racing cars.

  4. Big time family reunion for Lotus.

    Must have been very emotional for Nigel.

  5. So why is the Lotus Renault car there if this is a Team Lotus event.?

    1. Classic Team Lotus is not Team Lotus. They are not racing team but technical firm which maintenance old Lotus race cars. I don’t think they are interested or connected in Lotus name raid. In other word they are like car center for race cars lol

      1. It looks to me that they are in it whether they want to be or not…

        I dislike Bahar.

    2. Its an event by the Group Lotus / Lotus Cars to open their new test track.
      They had Classit Team Lotus (who use the traditional Lotus colours)there with the historic cars.

      And the current F1 car they sponsor as well as a few of their own models.

      1. No Lotus 7 though you’ll notice…I wonder why!!

        1. LOL, would have Fernandes suiing him!

  6. Anyone new to the Lotus v Lotus debate would be so confused by this!

    1. Would have been fun to have had last years Lotus Racing car there as well :-D

      From the images, it makes me wonder, why GL does not switch to a black/gold livery for all their racing, changing the ART cars and Indy Liveries as well for consistancy.

      1. Because that would be the grown up, mature thing to do! Bahar and Fernandes seem to have no intention of being grown up or mature while this battle rages on!

      2. Yes! ART has Team Lotus colours but is sponsored by Lotus Cars! (I care about ART and as much as I like green and yellow I’d rather they remained red & white).

        1. And Team Air Asia have Team Lotus’s test drivers while DAMS run in the Renault bumble bee colours!

          GP2 really is an outlet for the madness of Lotus v Lotus…

  7. HounslowBusGarage
    23rd June 2011, 8:43

    Tha Lotus 88 looks a fearsome beast. I wish it had been able to race – look at how low the rear wing is, it must have had so much ground effects downforce.

    1. The Lotus 88 did practice at a couple of Grand Prix weekends and wasn’t very fast when it did. It eventually made its race debut in the Thoroughbred GP series for historic F1 cars.

    2. Agree, shame it wasnt given the chance to race and show whether it was competitive. Sad really, and when you think the BT49 had hydropneumatic suspension which was deemed legal.

  8. New test track at Hethel??? Fantastic! I had the great opportunity of taking a driving course with Lotus Racing and I have to say the track was in horrible shape! The back straight was the old runway and it looked like it had been bombed. My instructor kept pointing out which potholes to use as my breaking points! It was fantastic fun though and I hope I have the cash again to drive their new track!

  9. bit confused here. group lotus track. team lotus and group lotus colours and mention of lotus racing and lotus cars. who is who???

    1. This a Group Lotus event. The “Team Lotus” T-shirts are from the original Team Lotus, not Team Fernandes.

      1. Yep. Team Ferandes is not and never will be Team Lotus

  10. It is great to see Nigel. He was my fisrt F1 idol. I started watching F1 in ealry 1990s and Mansell was my fave, above Senna and Prost!

  11. So nice to see Mansell. An amazing driver. Great article. AWESOME cars.

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