Drawing a Lotus F1 car for a magazine article is not as easy as it looks

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The Lotus 72 was a car masterpiece. Lotus used this chassis, albeit with updates from year to year, for five full seasons of Formula 1 from 1970 to 1975. It was and remains an astonishing beauty of engineering feats, and technical drawing. rendered by Giorgio Piola for Autosprint in Italian The magazine is no less impressive. Piola himself calls this the most important drawing of his long and legendary career.

Can you imagine a manufacturer using the same chassis year after year today? They would be 107 percent excluded from the championship. But Lotus managed to win three constructors’ championships and two pilot championships with a chassis that has aged like a crisp gouda. 20 race victories and 39 podiums were won by legendary drivers – Rindt, Fittipaldi, Peterson, Ickx, Scheckter – in this legendary car.

For 45 days, Piola worked on a 6-foot-long sheet of transfer paper, designing in great detail the 1972 championship-winning John Player Team Lotus 72D driven by Emmo. All the shading done by dotted dots on the face of a tire or in the shadow of the airbox to make it look incredibly technical and yet realistic in black and white. These were put in the magazine then, like today, but Piola couldn’t afford a mistake as it was paper and pen rather than a drawing program with ctrl + z.

This is a short video, but it’s worth watching to understand what Piola went through to provide readers with a minimum of technical understanding of the car at this time. This car was a technological marvel in 1970, and no less important in 1972, so it was something readers absolutely needed to see in print at the time. I’m even amazed to see it today, and the car was long out of competition when I was born. Four-wheel inboard brakes. Snake basket-shaped exhaust manifolds. The oil cooler under the rear fender. It’s worth looking into the details of this infuriating machine.

I can’t imagine drawing this thing, let alone driving it. Bless the artists of the world.

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