Jackie Oliver, in the high-winged Lotus 49, chases the 49 of Lotus teammate Graham Hill during the 1968 British Grand Prix. Though Hill and Oliver started from the front row, both retired with gear box problems, leaving Siffert, in the Rob Walker-owned Lotus 49, to claim his first Grand Prix victory and the last for an independent team.
Photo: McDonough Collection
I drove for Colin Chapman for about four years because I was a junior driver in the Lotus team, so apart from driving Formula two with Graham Hill, the opportunity came in the beginning of the ’68 season to replace Jimmy. The thing I did for Lotus, of course, was to test all their cars because the activity then for the F1 team was to have an arm—Lotus Components as it was called—to sort the various competition vehicles as Brabham and Cooper were doing, to meet the expanding home market.
I was acquainted with the Lotus 49 right from the very beginning, because I did the odd early test run in it. This wasn’t anything very serious, but that was the position I was in as the test driver. I knew the car and the amazing thing about the car, which Colin really concentrated on, was that it was extremely light and it was very strong. It was the first car with the engine as a stressed structural part of the whole chassis. That was something you felt immediately and the engine was very powerful, so it was the best Grand Prix car of its era and it started off a trend that still carries on today.
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