“Iconic” is an over-used word. But when it comes to Formula One cars, the Lotus 72 is precisely that.
This was the first F1 car to sport the instantly recognisable profile of the modern single-seater. The aerodynamic wedge shape, the relocation of the radiators from the nose to the sides and later the addition of an airbox made this the defining and much-copied F1 car of the seventies.
It remained in service for five consecutive seasons, winning three constructors’ championships, and was responsible for more than a quarter of Lotus’s 79 Grand Prix victories. And now it’s become the second F1 car to get the Haynes manual treatment.
The first was Red Bull’s 2010 championship-winning RB6. But although I loved the concept, it was impossible to ignore the book’s main failing.
Producing a book about a recent Formula One car has one major limitation: no team wants to give away its secrets, least of all the current world champions.
But there are no such problems when it comes to a car which first saw action over four decades ago. The Lotus 72 manual is generously illustrated, with many close-up photographs of the bits and bobs that make up one of F1’s greatest cars.
Cutaway diagrams and the liberal use of original hand drawings of Lotus 72 parts makes this an exceptionally detailed reference. And of course there are plenty of pictures of the car in action.
I had a few reservations about the organisation of the book, which tended towards the repetitive in places.
But I particularly enjoyed the views from former Lotus 72 drivers, which were not all as complimentary as you might expected. John Miles remembered it as “a difficult, troublesome child which turned into a high achiever”. Mechanics who ran the 72s also share their tales.
This second Haynes F1 car manual is much more successful than the first and I hope there are more to come in this series.
F1 Fanatic rating
Lotus 72 Owners’ Workshop Manual: 1970 onwards (all marks)
Author: Ian Wagstaff
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