Planned to race in 1981 season, the Lotus 88 was promptly banned from racing. Its double chassis allegedly represented a moveable aerodynamic device - something not allowed by the Formula 1 rules.
Ground effect cars were the way to go in 1981. These vehicles required a stable aerodynamic platform, which hardly moved under braking, acceleration or in turn. This can only be achieved with very stiff springs.
Stiffly sprung Formula 1 cars, however, were very difficult to drive. The driver gets to feel every little bump on the circuit, and the amount of vibration hitting the driver is enormous.
The idea behind the Lotus 88 was to make life easier for the driver, yet at the same time produce massive amounts of downforce.
The first chassis just consisted of the side pods housing the inverted wings producing all the ground effects. This chassis was connected to the wheels via very stiff springs, to keep any chassis pitching or rolling to a minimum.
The second chassis slotted within the first chassis, and housed the driver, fuel tank, engine and transmission. This second chassis was attached to the wheels by a (relatively) soft-sprung suspension system.
As the car is being driven, the two chassis, due to their different suspensions rates, move relative to each other. Exactly this relative movement was seen by the governing body and competitors as representing a moveable aerodynamic device, ie the wings moved independently from the rest of the car.
It is too bad that the Lotus 88 got banned. It could have offered drivers an easier ride and at the same produced amazing amounts of downforce.
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