THE LOLA T950
All pictures copyright Lola Heritage unless otherwise stated.
The FIA introduced Formula 3000 in 1985 to replace Formula 2 which had been an effective feeder series to F1 racing since 1948 with the formula going through several changes in regulations over the years. It had been a marvelous way for up and coming drivers to test themselves against the best with drivers of the caliber of Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren, Jochen Rindt and Jackie Stewart being regular competitors in the 1960s but into the 1970s the F1 drivers were racing in other formulae such as Indy Cars and CanAm taking away some of the glamour and excitement from F2 and it became more and more expensive to compete with works cars and drivers dominating.
The FIA were attempting to reduce costs and allow private teams to be able to race against works teams and with a three litre engine limit the hugely successful 3.0 litre Ford Cosworth DFV, which was no longer competitive in F1 with the advent of 1.5 litre turbo-charged engines, made for a ready engine supply. A number of manufacturers that had built F2 cars immediately announced a F3000 programme including March, Ralt, AGS and Lola, additionally 3.0 litre Formula 1 cars were also eligible allowing "old" Arrows, Williams and Tyrrells to find a new home.
The T950 used a slightly modified version of the T800 Indy Car monocoque, while this may have saved money it meant that, from the beginning, the car was bulky and overweight. Alain Ferté was employed as the works drive and, despite his best efforts the car was just not competitive and although he managed to qualify sixth twice his best finish was eighth and he was soon disillusioned and he left the team after five races. A number of other drivers were installed in the car but Johnny Dumfries, Philippe Streiff, James Weaver, Fulvio Ballabio and Val Musetti fared no better, The Corbari Italia team ran two cars for Mario Hytten and Juan Manuel Fangio II but they abandoned the cars mid-season and switched to a March 85B.
The Lola team spent the whole season trying to lighten the car and modifying the suspension and aerodynamics to no avail and it was clear that using the T800 monocoque was a mistake and the teams that made bespoke cars, March, Ralt and AGS had the right idea.
Full technical details of the T950 design can be found in the Lola Press Release below.
Year(s) of Construction: 1985
Total Built: 4
Thierry Tassin pre-season testing the T950 at Silverstone.